What is Bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis is a lung condition that causes the airways to scar and widen, accumulating phlegm and bacteria. This results from the severe inflammation of the airways.
Treatment can help keep the condition under control daily. However, it also increases the risk of developing chest infections that may be long-lasting.
Bronchiectasis symptoms: What are they?
Symptoms of bronchiectasis may develop over many years, but some are common. These include:
- Joint pain
- A chronic, phlegmy cough
- Sinus problems
- Recurring respiratory infections
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Fingernail clubbing, where the skin thickens.
When the airways widen, they become more vulnerable to infection, as the extra mucus accumulating in them can trap bacteria, fungi, or viruses, which can cause illness.
Not receiving treatment for the infection can cause further damage to your airways, leading to increased phlegm production and worsening symptoms. Therefore, it is essential to seek treatment for the infection.
Bronchiectasis in children
If your baby or child is experiencing a cough with phlegm or exhibiting wheezing symptoms and breathlessness, consult your doctor immediately. It is possible to prevent scarring by identifying and treating such symptoms early.
Children and babies with bronchiectasis should look out for the following symptoms:
- A chronic, phlegmy cough
- A fever
- Faster than normal breathing
- Vomiting phlegm
- A general feeling of being unwell
- Losing weight or not growing as expected
- Chest pain
- A runny nose with green mucus
If your child or baby is showing any symptoms of bronchiectasis, it is essential to contact a doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Additionally, if the fever persists despite treatment or if they cough up blood, it is crucial to seek urgent medical attention.
How is Bronchiectasis diagnosed?
By listening to your symptoms, our doctors can comprehensively understand their impact on you. We may also discuss your medical history and lifestyle to understand you better.
Our doctors can help you understand the process to determine if bronchiectasis is suspected. Typically, this involves seeing a lung specialist to confirm or rule out the diagnosis.
The following tests may be required:
- Blood examinations to assess the presence of infection and the performance of your immune system.
- Utilization of a CT scan to examine your chest with greater precision, aiming to identify any enlargement of the airways.
- Employment of chest X-ray to evaluate your lung condition and eliminate other potential ailments.
- Conduction of a lung function test to gauge the efficiency of your lung functionality.
- Analysis of a mucus sample to detect potential infections.
- Administration of purified protein derivative (PPD) through a skin test to detect tuberculosis.
- Examine your sweat for elevated salt levels, indicating potential cystic fibrosis.
What causes Bronchiectasis?
The airways entering the lungs become dilated, leading to a medical condition known as bronchiectasis. In some cases, the cause is unknown (idiopathic bronchiectasis).
The condition is, however, linked to the following conditions:
- Immune system deficiencies
- Pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lungs
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Aspiration, where your stomach contents leak into your airways
- Cystic fibrosis
- Allergic aspergillosis, which is where your lungs have an allergic reaction to a fungus
- Whooping cough
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Tuberculosis (TB)
A specialist will consider your medical history to determine if there is an underlying cause for bronchiectasis. Depending on when the condition was acquired, it may have occurred during childhood or adulthood.
What is the treatment for Bronchiectasis?
If your airway is widened and damaged, restoring it to its original state is impossible. However, treatments can manage symptoms and prevent further deterioration or infections.
Bronchitis may be treated with:
- Antibiotics - These medications are employed to manage and prevent lung infections. The use of this product for an extended period might be recommended in exceptional cases.
- Medications aimed at thinning mucus - these can be inhaled using a nebulizer.
- Bronchodilators - inhaled medications that aid in relaxing the air passages.
- Respiratory physiotherapy - You will learn specific breathing exercises to clear your airways effectively.
- Expectorants - substances that facilitate the expulsion of mucus through coughing.
- Devices that assist in the removal of mucus from the lungs.
- Surgical intervention - If bronchiectasis is localized, surgical removal might be considered.
Addressing any underlying causes, if present, will also be part of the treatment approach.
Here are some lifestyle changes you can make to ease your symptoms:
- If you are a smoker, it's advisable to stop smoking.
- Prioritize your well-being - engage in regular physical activity, eat a nutritious and balanced diet, and stay hydrated.
Receive the annual influenza vaccination.
How Mobi Doctor can help
Mobi Doctor offers convenient access to Doctors, with appointments available seven days a week. Our online video consultations allow you to talk to a doctor from the comfort of your home using any device.
You can speak to a doctor from the comfort of your home, at work or even when you are out and about. Our doctors can review your bronchiectasis symptoms with you and recommend your next steps.