What is bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis is a pulmonary condition that occurs when the airways of the lungs are stretched and widened. In some cases bronchiectasis may be present at birth (congenital), although in other cases, it can develop later in life (acquired).
How does it occur?
When bronchiectasis is acquired over time, it is often caused by an injury to the lungs or complication from a lung infection such as pneumonia. It can also commonly be caused by cystic fibrosis or primary ciliary dyskinesia. In some cases, it's caused by a foreign object that's inhaled and blocks the airways.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of bronchiectasis develop over time, and can include:
- Coughing that worsens when lying down
- Shortness of breath
- Productive cough
- Chest pain
- Abnormal chest sounds
How is it diagnosed?
A physician may diagnose bronchiectasis by listening for abnormal sounds made by the lungs with a stethoscope. These sounds may include clicking, rattling or other noises. Additional tests used to diagnose bronchiectasis include chest X-rays, lung function tests, mucus tests and more.
How is it treated?
Bronchiectasis is not curable, but the symptoms can be managed with proper treatment. Treatment options may include daily drainage of bronchial secretions, coughing exercises, use of a bronchodilator and more. In the case of infection, antibiotics or expectorants may be prescribed. Surgery is necessary in some more severe cases.