Bronchiectasis is the widening and destruction of the large airways or bronchi, usually in the lower lung portions.
The common cause is recurrent inflammation or infection of the airways. Cystic fibrosis is a cause in nearly half of all cases. Risk factors include recurrent lung infections, tuberculosis, and obstruction of the airways by a foreign body or tumor.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms may develop gradually and can include chronic cough with large amounts of foul-smelling sputum, bluish skin color, hemoptysis, fatigue, paleness, shortness of breath, weight loss, and wheezing.
Auscultation reveals small clicking, wheezing, bubbling, rattling sounds, usually in the lower lung lobes. Chest x-ray, CT scan, complete blood count (CBC), and tuberculin skin test are often ordered.
Treatment aims at controlling infections and bronchial secretions and relieving airway obstruction. Antibiotics, bronchodilators, and expectorants may be prescribed. Regular, daily drainage to remove bronchial secretions is important.
A respiratory therapist can show clients coughing exercises that help reduce bronchial secretions.
If chest pain or shortness of breath gets worse or if bloody phlegm is coughed up remind clients to return to their primary care provider.
The prognosis is good with treatment, and most individuals live a normal life without major disability.
Treat lung infections promptly; get the influenza vaccine; and avoid upper respiratory infections, smoking, and pollution.