Bronchiectasis is a potent lung infection where the bronchial tubes in the lungs get thickened, enlarged, ultimately leading to the total damage of the tubes. The damaged respiratory tube causes the accumulation of sputum or mucus providing access to harmful bacteria, which finally results in severe infection and blockage.
Bronchiectasis may be acquired or infective in nature and is categorized into two types :
Cystic Fibrosis Bronchiectasis:
Bronchiectasis, which happens if a person is already suffering from the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis.
Non-Cystic Fibrosis Bronchiectasis:
Bronchiectasis, which happens when a person is suffering from infectious diseases like flu, pneumonia, tuberculosis, etc.
Bronchiectasis may also be associated with humoral immunodeficiency syndrome (i.e. infection of the blood protein), rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, inflammatory bowel disease, allergic aspergillosis, HIV, whooping cough or due to the weakness of the immune system.
Congenital disorders like Kartagener syndrome, Young’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome and Williams-Campbell syndrome may also increase the risk of bronchiectasis.
- Chronic coughing (spurting out yellow or green, thick mucus)
- Chest pain and chest infection
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Wheezing in the chest like in the case of asthma
- Blood in the mucus
- Bad breath
- Thickening or change in the skin under toes and nails
Diagnosis and Treatment
The initial symptoms of bronchiectasis are diagnosed by the doctor using a stethoscope to inspect any abnormal sounds or for evidence of airway blockage. It will be subsequently followed by complete blood analysis to examine the presence of any infections or anaemia.
An acute or chronic version may include tests like:
- Sputum test
- Pulmonary function test
- Purified protein derivative skin test (for tuberculosis)
- X-ray (for the chest and lungs)
There is no absolute cure for the ailment, but early diagnosis and prevention may control secretion, relieve the blockage in the airway, reduce complications and improve the quality of breathing.
A severe infection can be dealt with by your doctor by one of the following ways:
- Oxygen Therapy and Breathing exercises
- Medications to thin the sputum
- Expectorants to cough up the mucus
- Bronchodilators to open up the bronchial tubes