Bronchiectasis — Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

Written by: Lung Health
May 29, 2019

Bronchiectasis refers to widening and scarring of the breathing tubes in the lungs. This condition makes it difficult for the airways to clear out mucus, which can then build up and cause repeated lung infections. There can be many underlying causes for bronchiectasis, including congenital defects and development due to a related condition like cystic fibrosis. 

Outlook for Bronchiectasis Patients

The term bronchiectasis comes from “bronchi,” which refers to the airways in the lungs that help air travel into the body to transfer oxygen to the blood, and “ectasis,” which is a medical term for abnormal stretching. Currently, there is no cure for bronchiectasis and this disorder can have a negative effect on your quality of life. In more serious cases, the mucus buildup can be severe enough to make it difficult to walk across the room without becoming short of breath. 

Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatment options for bronchiectasis if it is affecting you or someone you love. By learning more about this condition, you can become more empowered as a patient and give yourself the ability to make an informed decision about your care. 

How Bronchiectasis Can Develop

While relatively rare, bronchiectasis can develop as a result of a birth defect caused by a developmental issue with the lungs. In most cases, however, this condition is acquired as a result of inflammation related to a number of conditions that damage the airways in the lungs. These include cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, fungal infections, tuberculosis and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. 

Any of these conditions have the potential to cause severe inflammation that can damage the bronchial tubes to the point where they lose elasticity and begin to thicken. This makes it more difficult for mucus to be cleared out of these airways. 

Symptoms Caused by Bronchiectasis

When mucus starts to build up in the bronchial tubes, it typically causes symptoms that can include the following: 

  • Shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Persistent cough
  • Production of large amounts of sputum and mucus
  • Soreness or pains in the chest
  • Thickening of the flesh around the toenails and fingernails, called clubbing

 

These symptoms can be similar to a number of other progressive lung conditions, which is why it is so important to see a doctor for diagnosis and proper treatment if you begin to experience any of these issues. 

How Doctors Diagnose Bronchiectasis

To diagnose bronchiectasis as the source of debilitating symptoms, doctors will usually begin by reviewing your medical history, asking you questions about your symptoms and lifestyle and performing a physical examination. This includes using a stethoscope to listen to your breathing. To confirm diagnosis, other tests may be performed, including: 

  • A chest X-ray or CT scan
  • Lung function tests
  • Tissue sampling and analysis
  • Blood work

 

If bronchiectasis is determined to be present, you and your doctor can then begin to form a treatment plan. 

Treatment Options for Bronchiectasis Include Cellular Therapy

One of the first recommendations for patients with bronchiectasis is to make any necessary lifestyle changes that could potentially worsen the inflammation of the lungs. This includes quitting smoking or limiting exposure to poor quality air or chemical fumes. 

To relieve symptoms, doctors can also prescribe medications such as steroids, bronchodilators and mucus thinners. Pulmonary rehabilitation and supplemental oxygen therapy are also common treatments. 

Bronchiectasis Treatment With Lung Health Institute

Many people suffering from bronchiectasis are turning to regenerative treatments, such as the options we provide at Lung Health Institute. As a leader in regenerative medicine, we take a whole-body approach to helping people relieve symptoms and regain lung function. We can treat bronchiectasis with these state-of-the-art methods: 

  • Cellular therapy — We use a sample of your blood to help restore lung function and reduce inflammation. 
  • Anti-Inflammatory Initiative™ (AI²™) — These nutrition and lifestyle plans are custom-designed to help relieve inflammation and symptoms of lung disorders like bronchiectasis.

Take the next step to find relief. Contact one of our patient coordinators today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.

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