Bronchiectasis is defined as widened, thickened or permanently damaged bronchial tubes in the lungs. Once damaged, they allow bacteria and mucus to accumulate in the lungs. This leads to frequent infections and airway blockage.
There is no available cure for the condition, but it can be managed. With proper treatment, an individual can lead a normal life. Nevertheless, flare-ups require prompt treatment to maintain oxygen flow to the entire body and prevent further damage to the lungs.
What are the indications?
The signs of bronchiectasis might take months or even years to manifest. Some of the usual signs include:
- Coughing up blood
- Chronic cough
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Abnormal sounds or wheezing while breathing
- Weight loss
- Coughing up large amounts of dense mucus daily
- Frequent episodes of respiratory infections
- Thickening of the skin beneath the toes and nails (clubbing)
Management of bronchiectasis
Even today, there is no available cure for bronchiectasis, but management is essential to control the condition. The objective is to lower the risk for the occurrence of infections and keep bronchial secretions under control. In addition, it is also necessary to prevent further obstruction of the airway and lessen lung damage.
Some of the common measures in managing bronchiectasis include:
- Airway clearing methods such as breathing exercises as well as chest physiotherapy
- Antibiotics for the prevention or treatment of infections
- Bronchodilators such as albuterol to open the airways
- Drugs to thin out the mucus
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Oxygen therapy
- Expectorants to promote coughing up of mucus
- Vaccinations to lower the risk for respiratory infections