Related Lung Conditions
Kind of scary to think that you’ve had what you thought was the flu for longer than you care to admit. Coughing up lots of mucus constantly and trouble breathing for days that stretched into weeks. As per your wife, it was high time to stop being stubborn and get to the doctor to find out exactly what was wrong with you. So what was the diagnosis? Bronchiectasis.
Why Does Bronchiectasis Occur?
Bronchiectasis develops due to an infection that causes injury to the lung’s airways. The walls widen and lose their shape becoming flabby. As time goes by without treatment, the person with this disease finds it increasingly difficult to breathe and has a problem clearing mucus from their lungs. Although one might think mucus production is a bad thing, you’d be wrong. When our bodies produce mucus and it gets properly cleared from our lungs, we are ridding our bodies of bacteria, dust and other particles that might be present.
With bronchiectasis, although mucus is produced, it is not cleared. Therefore, bacteria can increase that in turn leads to the constant battle with lung infections. It becomes a vicious cycle. Lung infections that cause more and more damage to the lung’s airways. As with any other lung disease, bronchiectasis can affect the body in other ways due to the fact that oxygen is not properly circulating. As a result, untreated bronchiectasis can lead to heart-related problems such as heart failure.
Infection is not the only way that one can develop bronchiectasis. It can also occur at birth from a defect or injury and even during childhood, if a foreign object was inhaled. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease but damage can be slowed with treatment.
If someone has developed bronchiectasis, symptoms experienced might be as follows:
- Coughing and problem breathing that worsens when lying down.
- Chest pain.
- Large amounts of mucus coughed up on a daily basis.
- Shortness of breath.
- Thickening of skin under nails on hands and feet (clubbing).
How is Bronchiectasis Diagnosed and Treated?
When determining whether or not a person has bronchiectasis, a physician will need to perform a number of tests. Some of the tests that are ordered to properly diagnose bronchiectasis are:
- Culture of sputum
- Chest x-ray
- Lung function testing
Despite the fact that bronchiectasis is not curable, treatment can help stop the downward spiral of damage to the lungs. In fact, treatment allows people to still live a normal life. Your doctor might suggest the following treatment options for bronchiectasis:
- Antibiotics to stop the infection.
- Bronchodilators to open lung passageways.
- Medication to thin the mucus and expectorant to make you effectively cough.
- Oxygen and physical therapy.
- Surgical removal of affected lung area.