Bronchiectasis

BRONCHIECTASIS child

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Introduction

When you breathe in, air is drawn through your nostrils into your lungs through your trachea which then branches off into two smaller tubes called bronchi. Each bronchus conducts air into one of your lungs where it then divides into smaller tubes also called bronchi. These then branch off into fine tubes called bronchioles that terminate in sacs called alveoli which is where gaseous exchange occurs. There are several forms of respiratory disorders that can interfere with this process. One such disorder affects the bronchi and it is known as bronchiectasis.

 

What Is Bronchiectasis?

BRONCHIECTASIS lungsBronchiectasis is a chronic disorder that arises when the bronchi of the lungs become abnormally widened and thickened, resulting in the accumulation of mucus. As a consequence of this, the airways can become blocked. Since the natural mucus secretion cannot be drained away as it should, it accumulates and provides the ideal environment for microbes to flourish in, giving rise to infections. These factors are responsible for symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath. This condition may affect one of the bronchi or several. This generally occurs because of damage to the bronchi themselves or to the tissues supporting them.

 

What Factors Are Responsible For This Condition?

In as many as a quarter to nearly one-half of all diagnosed cases, there is no clearly identifiable cause for this condition. Such cases are referred to as idiopathic in nature. In other instances, there is a range of scenarios and contributing factors that can give rise to bronchiectasis. These are discussed below in brief.

  • Often, this condition develops as a consequence of chronic systemic disorders such as cystic fibrosis. In fact, CF is one of the primary contributing factors. This also includes chronic inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Alternatively, it could also occur as a result of infectious respiratory illnesses that could potentially damage the bronchi in your lungs. This is particularly true of illnesses suffered in childhood. Some examples include pneumonia, tuberculosis, and whooping cough.
  • Autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Chronic allergies and the resultant inflammation can also permanently damage the bronchi. Examples of such conditions include asthma and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
  • Other respiratory disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Heritable connective tissue disorders such as Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
  • Long-term exposure to toxic substances such as tobacco smoke or other chemical irritants such as industrial fumes.
  • Primary ciliary dyskinesia and Young’s syndrome, conditions which cause defects in the cilia or small hair-like structures lining the respiratory tract as a result of which mucus secretions accumulate.
  • Yet another possibility is having a weak immunity which raises the probability of developing infections that could damage the bronchi. This could include HIV infection, undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy or taking immunosuppressant drugs for receiving an organ transplant.

 

What Are The Manifestations Of Bronchiectasis?

BRONCHIECTASIS treatmentAnyone could develop bronchiectasis. Generally, though, symptoms tend to manifest around middle age. The severity of symptoms varies from time to time. Typically, patients suffering from bronchiectasis tend to experience periods when their symptoms worsen. These episodes are called ‘exacerbations’.  This condition is a progressive one since damage to the bronchi is permanent and irreversible.

A detailed list of possible symptoms appears below:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Coughing up greenish or yellowish phlegm.
  • Blood-tinged phlegm.
  • Wheezing.
  • Chest pain.
  • Weakness.
  • The fingertips and nails become distorted and take on a ‘clubbed’ appearance.

 

Are There Different Types Of Bronchiectasis?

Yes. There are two main variants of bronchiectasis. ‘CF Bronchiectasis’ is that which is connected with cystic fibrosis. In all other instances, this condition is labeled as ‘non-CF Bronchiectasis’.  

 

What Are The Complications?

BRONCHIECTASIS childThe most common complication of bronchiectasis is a lung infection. The presence of accumulated mucus in the bronchi increases the probability of infection developing in the lungs. The patient may also develop pleurisy which is inflammation of the pleural membranes. Infections and pleurisy can, in themselves, give rise to a range of complications such as pleural effusion, lung abscesses, and empyema. These can be painful and can severely interfere with the patient’s breathing, which can have fatal consequences.

Another possible critical outcome is the bursting of a blood vessel as a result of the strain on the lungs. This causes the patient to cough up large quantities of blood. This condition should be treated as a medical emergency as there could be a critical loss of blood and the leaking blood could even obstruct the airways even further.

 

What Tests Are Needed To Diagnose Bronchiectasis?

If you have frequent lung infections and a persistent cough along with phlegm, it is likely that you might be suffering from bronchiectasis. When you visit your doctor for a diagnosis, he or she will most probably carry out the following tests:

  • Physical examination and medical history. Upon auscultation with a stethoscope, the patient’s lungs may be heard producing a crackling sound.
  • Blood tests.
  • A sample of your sputum will be analyzed.
  • Chest X-rays.
  • Computerised tomography (CT scans) of the chest.

 

Is It Curable? What Treatments Are Available?

The damage, distortion, and scarring sustained by the bronchi of a person suffering from bronchiectasis is permanent and cannot be rectified. However, there are certain steps that can be taken to manage the condition, ease the symptoms, and prevent them from worsening any further. Certain lifestyle modifications can aid in this process. This would involve cessation of unhealthy habits such as smoking that tends to worsen respiratory symptoms. Patients should also pay attention to diet and exercise.

Most importantly, patients must take care to avoid infections. This will entail taking the necessary vaccines and making sure they are up to date. Those with existing infections are treated with antibiotics. Bronchodilators and special breathing techniques help to ease breathing and prevent breathlessness and resultant symptoms. Certain medical devices can also help to clear away the mucus accumulated in the airways in order to obtain relief.

In instances where the damage is restricted to a small portion of lung tissue, this can be removed surgically by means of a procedure called lobectomy. However, this treatment is not preferred in cases of the extensive disease. Your doctor will advise you on the most suitable course for your condition, bearing in mind parameters such as your age and general health.

Prevention is mainly by addressing the lung conditions promptly and by improving the immune system of the body.

 

 

Facts

  • Bronchiectasis is a condition that can develop at any age.
  • Common variable immunodeficiency, HIV/AIDS, and similar immunodeficiency disorders can increase the risk of bronchiectasis.

Facts

  • Out of all the affected individuals, around two-thirds are females.
  • In case of children, the condition more commonly occurs in boys as compared to girls.

Facts

  • In the year 2012, the prevalence of bronchiectasis was found to be approximately 210,000 in the United Kingdom.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Integrate self-care strategies into your daily routine. These may include practicing performing mucus clearance techniques, taking medications (orally or by inhalation) and getting a good rest and sleep.
  • Go for regular health checkups. Lung damage may be averted if the underlying condition causing bronchiectasis is diagnosed and treated early.
  • Drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated. This helps in keeping the mucus slippery and moist so that it can be easily expectorated.
Don'ts
  • Tend to self-medicate. Consult your doctor before taking any kind of medication after its prescribed dosage is over. Long-term use of macrolide antibiotics can develop the infection of resistant bacteria in the lungs.
  • Ignore symptoms such as a chronic cough, blood in a cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, weight loss, fatigue, frequent respiratory infections etc.

 

 

 

 

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Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Epley maneuver: Why is this the best protection from the symptoms of vertigo? Epley maneuver is an exercise that can treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  It was…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
chloride test
Chloride Test A chloride test of the blood checks the level of chloride in body, an important factor governing the…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Coconut sugar: What is it and is it healthier than table sugar? In the long list of things that the wonderful coconut gives us, coconut sugar is another remarkable addition.…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
antihepatitis core antigent
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) Total Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC ) is a blood examination and the only serological marker of infectious blood…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…