Bronchiectasis is an abnormal widening of one or more airways. Extra mucus is made in the abnormal airways. This collection of mucus is more prone to infection. The main symptom is a cough which produces a lot of phlegm (sputum). Treatment often includes regular physiotherapy and courses of antibiotic medication. Long-term antibiotic treatment is needed in some cases. Inhalers are sometimes used. Surgery is occasionally needed. You should not smoke as smoking can make things worse. The influenze and pneumonia vaccines are recommended to all patients with bronchiectasis.
The airways of the lung:
Air passes into the lungs via the windpipe (trachea) which divides into a series of branching airways called bronchi.
Air passes from the bronchi into millions of tiny air sacs (alveoli). Oxygen from the air is passed into the bloodstream through the thin walls of the alveoli.
Tiny glands in the lining of the airways make mucus to keep the airways moist and trap any dust and dirt that might be inhaled. There are many tiny hairs (cilia) on the surface of the cells lining the airways. These little tails or hairs act my sweeping the mucus to the back of the throat to form phlegm (sputum) which is usually swallowed.
Bronchiectasis is a permanent abnormal widening of your airways which we doctors call bronchi. Extra mucus pools in these widened areas and this warm moist environment is very conducive to bacterial growth and hence infection.
Causes of Bronchiectasis:
Severe lung infections such as tuberculosis (TB), whooping cough, pneumonia or measles, which can damage the airways at the time of infection. Infection is the most common cause.
Some inherited conditions. For example, a condition called primary ciliary dyskinesia affects the tiny hairs (cilia) so they do not beat correctly to clear the mucus. Cystic fibrosis is another condition that affects the lungs and causes damaged airways. Some rare immune problems can cause lung infections and damage to airways.
Inhaled objects, such as peanuts, can become stuck and block an airway. This may lead to local damage to that airway. Acid from the stomach, which is regurgitated and inhaled, can damage airways. Inhaling poisonous gases may also cause damage.
Some diseases that cause inflammation in other parts of the body can occasionally cause inflammation and damage in the branching airways (bronchi) and lead to bronchiectasis. For example: ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus.
Symptoms of bronchiectasis:
Coughing up lots of phlegm (sputum) is the main symptom.
Fatigue and weakness
Coughing up blood
Shortness of breath
Our doctors are experts at diagnosing and treating Bronchiectasis.