Bronchiectasis is a lung condition where there is a permanent widening of the respiratory passages. The bronchi in the lungs lose elasticity and remain expanded and filled with fluid and irritated when a person has Bronhiectasis. When this happens the lung’s natural cleaning ability is destroyed or severely damaged and infection in the lungs can set in. In extreme cases the damage is so bad that the patient will need a lung transplant. Bronchiectasis can happen to people of any age or gender and quite often occurs in infants.

Bronchiectasis causes inflammation in the bronchial walls and an increased number of blood vessels which can bleed out and cause the person to cough up blood. The result is blocked and damaged airways leading to low levels of oxygen in the blood. Cystic fibrosis can cause this condition as well as chronic lung infections.

Bronchiectasis is sub-typed into 3 categories; cystic, varicose and cylindrical. Cystic bronchiectasis is the most severe type with cylindrical being the mildest. People who have the mild form of bronciectasis are usually given antibiotics when it flares up to treat it. Some of the symptoms of bronchiectasis are feeling short of breath when exercising, weight loss, pale looking skin (the skin may also look bluish), fatigue, coughing up blood, a cough that gets worse when you lie on one side, wheezing and bad breath.

There are some common causes for this lung condition. When stomach acid is inhaled into the gullet due to a hiatus hernia it can cause a lung infection. Patients who have cystic fibrosis often develop bronchiectasis. In fact, almost one half of all the cases of bronchiectasis in the United States are caused by bronchiectasis. The cilia lining in the bronchial tubes can not heal properly when one has cystic fibrosis. This can lead to a mucus build up in the bronchial tubes and can cause a blockages and infection to set in. HIV infections and AIDS are two other health conditions that can cause bronchiectasis. Other immunodeficiency disorders can cause it too, as well as Tuberculosis (TB). If a foreign substance is inhaled into the bronchial tubes it can also lead to an infection which can set up the ideal situation for bronchiectasis to develop. Infants who come down with whooping cough are at a high risk for developing this condition. Pneumonia is a common cause for it as well. Anytime there is a virus infection in the lungs it can cause this condition.

Treatment for this condition may in the form of surgery and certain medications. During the surgery the damaged tissues or pockets in the lung which is acting as a reservoir for mucus build up and infection is cut away. Surgery for this condition is common. The patient may also be given corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation in the lungs. The method of delivery for the corticosteroids in this case is an inhaler. Mucus thinners are also given to help loosen up the mucus that is trapped in the lungs and airways. On rare occasions the patient may need a lung transplant if the bronchiectasis is severe and widespread.

To prevent bronchiectasis from developing the patient should be sure to get in daily aerobic exercise so that the lungs stay clear of mucus build up and circulation is improved to the lungs. A person who is prone to these types of lung infections should not smoke. If there is a sinus infection nasal drops and sprays should be used to help clear the nose and mucus membranes. Some people who have chronic brochiectasis will have to stay on anti-biotics during their lifetime to keep chest infections at bay. This is especially the case for people who stop taking their antibiotics only to have bronchiectasis develop again. The patient who has chronic bronchiectasis should remain under medical supervision and monitored so that addition damage to the lungs does not occur.

Last updated on Feb 8th, 2011 and filed under Respiratory Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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