Bronchiectasis

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Bronchiectasis

Question

What is bronchiectasis?

Janet
United Kingdom

Answer

Bronchiectasis is a chronic lung condition characterized by abnormal widening (dilation) of the large airways (bronchial tubes). This damages the bronchial tubes and impairs their ability to clear mucus from the lungs.

Bronchiectasis may affect multiple areas of one or both lungs. Causes of bronchiectasis include inflammation and infection of the airways, such as due to:

  • Bacterial lung infections, such as chronic bronchitis or some types of pneumonia
  • Fungal infections in people with asthma (allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, or ABPA)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • A foreign body in the airway, especially in children

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Coughing up large amounts of yellow or green sputum, which may contain blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Recurring pneumonias in the same location

A doctor can confirm a diagnosis of bronchiectasis by a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the chest. Treatment depends on the extent and severity of the condition and may include:

  • Avoiding irritants such as smoke and dust
  • Bronchodilator medications, if the condition is associated with asthma
  • Antibiotics to treat or prevent lung infections
  • Daily postural drainage of the affected part of the lung to remove excess secretions
  • Surgical removal of the affected lung tissue

Last Updated: 03/15/2006
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