What is bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis is a disease that damages the major airways of the lungs, which widen as a result of this damage. It can be of two types:
- Congenital bronchiectasis: it is present from birth.
- Acquired bronchiectasis: appears later in life.
What are the symptoms of bronchiectasis?
Symptoms develop gradually and may present months or years later. The main symptoms are:
- Bad breath
- Bluish skin
- Drumstick-shaped fingers and toes
- Chronic cough with foul-smelling sputum
- Cough that worsens when lying on one side
- Coughing up blood
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
What are the causes of bronchiectasis?
Repeated or severe inflammation or infection of the airways or inhalation of a foreign body is one of the main causes of this pathology. On the other hand, cystic fibrosis is the cause of one third of the cases of bronchiectasis in the United States.
Also, this disease is usually related to immunodeficiency syndromes and primary ciliary dyskinesia. Another cause may be frequent inhalation of certain food particles when eating.
Can bronchiectasis be prevented?
If the disease is congenital, it cannot be prevented, although the risk of complications can be reduced by treating lung infections early. On the other hand, avoiding smoking and pollution helps reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections, and annual flu shots and childhood vaccinations help reduce the chances of some infections.
What is the treatment of bronchiectasis?
The main treatment is daily drainage to eliminate sputum. It may also include some exercises to expel it. Another complementary treatment is pharmacological, which may include bronchodilators, antibiotics and expectorants for infections.
In more severe cases, if medications do not work, if there is a lot of bleeding in the lungs, or if the disease is localized to a small area, surgery may be needed to remove the lung.