Bronchiectasis What Is Bronchiectasis?

A sick woman sitting on her couch coughingBronchiectasis is a condition that occurs when the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs get damaged, causing them to widen and become loose and scarred. These tubes are called airways.

Although the cause of bronchiectasis is unknown, bronchiectasis usually results from an infection or other condition that injures the walls of your airways or keeps the airways from clearing the mucus they make.

Injured airways slowly lose their ability to clear out  mucus , a thick substance that removes germs, dust, and other tiny particles in the air we breathe. This mucus buildup creates an environment in which harmful  bacteria  can grow more 

The illustration shows the lungs with normal airways and with widened airways with bronchiectasis.
How bronchiectasis affects the lungs. The illustration shows the lungs with normal airways and with widened airways with bronchiectasis.

easily, leading to repeated flare-ups from serious lung infections. 

The injured airways and infections can become a vicious cycle. Each infection causes more damage to your airways. Over time, they lose their ability to move air in and out. Early diagnosis and treatment are important. The sooner your healthcare provider starts treating bro

nchiectasis and any underlying conditions that are causing your bronchiectasis, the better the chances of preventing further lung damage.

Bronchiectasis can affect one section of a lung or many sections of both lungs. It often occurs with other lung conditions. In children, it commonly occurs with cystic fibrosis (50%-75% by 3-5 years of age) and primary ciliary dyskinesia (up to 26% of children). In adults, it may occur along with immune conditions, such as common variable immunodeficiency (53% of the time). It can also occur with other lung conditions in adults, such as severe COPD (35%-50% of the time) and severe asthma (25%-40% of the time). It can occur with many other conditions as well. When these conditions are present, bronchiectasis can cause serious health problems, including res

piratory failurepneumothorax (a collapsed lung), and heart failure

Currently, bronchiectasis has no cure. However, most people can enjoy a good quality of life and manage the condition with stepwise treatment, including clearing their lungs, exercising, and taking steps to lower the chance of lung infection.



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