Bronchiectasis Living With

Early diagnosis and treatment of bronchiectasis can prevent further damage to your lungs. People who have bronchiectasis should get ongoing medical care and try to follow a healthy lifestyle.

Ongoing care

If you have bronchiectasis, work closely with your healthcare provider and lung and infectious disease specialists to learn how to improve your quality of life. This involves learning as much as you can about bronchiectasis and any underlying conditions that you have. You may work with a respiratory therapist to learn how to clear your airways.

Take steps to avoid lung infections. Ask your provider about getting flu, pneumonia, and COVID-19 vaccines., Wash your hands often to lower your risk of getting viruses and bacterial infections.

Healthy lifestyle

Following a healthy lifestyle is important for overall health and well-being.

  • Quit smoking. Talk with your healthcare provider about programs and products that can help you quit smoking. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke. If you have trouble quitting smoking on your own, consider joining a support group. Many hospitals, workplaces, and community groups offer classes to help people quit smoking. 

    For more information about how to quit smoking, go to the Smoking and Your Heart page and read Your Guide to a Healthy Heart. Although these resources focus on heart health, they include general information about how to quit smoking.
  • Avoid toxic fumes, gases, and other harmful substances.
  • Choose healthy foods. A healthy diet includes a variety of vegetables and fruits. It also includes whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and foods with protein, such as lean meats, poultry without skin, seafood, processed soy products, nuts, seeds, beans, and peas.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, helps prevent airway mucus from becoming thick and sticky.
  • Be physically active. Physical activity, such as walking and swimming, can help loosen mucus. Ask your provider what types and amounts of activity are safe for you.

Take care of your mental health

People who have chronic lung diseases are more prone to depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. Talk about how you feel with your healthcare team. Talking to a professional counselor can also help. If you are very depressed, your provider may recommend medicines or other treatments that can improve your quality of life.

Joining a patient support group may help you adjust to living with bronchiectasis. You can see how other people who have the same symptoms have coped with them. Talk with your provider about local support groups or check with an area medical center.

Support from family and friends also can help relieve stress and anxiety. Let your loved ones know how you feel and what they can do to help you.

Serious health problems from bronchiectasis

Severe bronchiectasis can lead to other serious health conditions.

  • Respiratory failure develops when not enough oxygen passes from your lungs into your blood.
  • Atelectasis occurs when one or more areas of your lungs collapse or don’t inflate properly. As a result, you may feel short of breath. Your heart rate and breathing rate may increase, and your skin and lips may turn blue.
  • Heart failure can occur if bronchiectasis is so advanced that it affects all parts of your airways. Heart failure develops when the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. The most common symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath or trouble breathing, tiredness, and swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and veins in the neck. 
  • Emphysema
  • Collection of pus in the pleural cavity
  • Lung abscesses
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