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Bronchiectasis - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Sep 03, 2019

What is Bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis is a type of medical condition in which the bronchial tubes of the lung are rendered enlarged and invariably damaged. As a result the air passes out of the tubes allow easy build-up of mucus and bacteria in the lungs. As such, this build-up allows subsequent blockages and infections in the air passage. The condition is treatable but cannot be entirely cured. Yet with appropriate treatment, a person can continue living a normal lifestyle.

What are the symptoms of bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis symptoms:

The symptoms of Bronchiectasis are slow to develop and may take a few months to even years to develop. Some of the symptoms are:

  • A chronic coughing jag
  • Blood in cough
  • Abnormal noises in the chest while breathing
  • Chest pain and stiffness
  • Odorous breath
  • Fatigue and weight loss
  • Thickening skin

What are the causes of bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis Causes:

The primary cause of this disease is an infection to the lung. This includes infections including bacterial and viral infections like tuberculosis and staph. Some other causes of this malady include:

  • Ingesting or inhaling alien food or objects.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions like cystic fibrosis and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • A weak immune system
  • Taking the above into consideration, a study conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIH) reported that almost one-third of all cases of Bronchiectasis is caused by cystic fibrosis.

How bronchiectasis is diagnosed?

Bronchiectasis diagnosis:

The doctor may conduct various physical tests to check for abnormal sounds or to ascertain evidence for blocked airways. A complete blood test is also often recommended to identify the infection as well. Some other tests include:

  • Sputum tests to check for bacteria and viruses in your mucus
  • X-rays of the chest and CT scans to provide images of the lungs
  • Pulmonary function test to ascertain the functionality of the lung i.e. how well is the air flowing in and out of the lungs


Bronchiectasis cannot be cured but there are treatment options which can be done to manage the condition and the main aim is to keep the infection and bronchial secretion under control. The common methods to treat bronchiectasis are:

  • Airway cleaning methods: Which include breathing exercises and physiotherapy of the chest.
  • Antibiotics: Through with infection can be treated or prevented, medications can be given to thin the mucus.
  • Oxygen therapy: Prevention of respiratory functions through vaccines, albuterol, tiotropium can be used for the opening of airways.
  • Physiotherapy of the chest: It can be done as it can be pain-relieving. Mucus can be cleared of lungs with the help of high-frequency chest wall and oscillation vest. This helps in dislodging of mucus from the walls of the bronchial tube as the vest gently compresses and releases the chest by creating the effect of coughing.
  • If there is bleeding from the affected part of the lungs then surgery must be done to remove the affected area.
  • If bronchiectasis is caused by immune disorders or COPD then those conditions will also be treated by the doctors.

How to prevent bronchiectasis?

The exact cause of bronchiectasis is unknown however genetic abnormalities can be the cause of the disease which affects the lungs. Smoking, cooking fumes, polluted air, chemicals should be avoided so that your lungs can be protected and also lung health can be maintained. Vaccines must be taken on time to prevent flu, pertussis, measles.

How dangerous is bronchiectasis?

The danger in bronchiectasis is rare but the disease can be serious and one of the serious complications can be coughing out blood in large amount, it is caused when blood vessel split in the lungs. This condition can be dangerous and life-threatening thus requiring emergency surgery. If mucus accumulates in large amount then there is a risk of more damage and infection.

Is bronchiectasis contagious?

Bronchiectasis is not a contagious disease and the people around you cannot catch it. If a person is having coughs regularly still it not contagious.

What is the life expectancy of someone with bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis is a disease which leaves a very long impact on life and a person has is prone to repeated chest infections. If someone has bronchiectasis since childhood still he/she may live up to for many years but if someone has a severe form of bronchiectasis then life expectancy becomes shorter.

What are the home remedies for bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis home remedies:

  • Using a humidifier: this helps in thinning up of mucus by keeping the air around you moist.
  • Drinking warm liquids: drinking warm tea, liquid or makes coughing easier and thins the mucus.
  • Honey is one of the natural remedies for coughing and is beneficial for respiratory infections.

Foods to avoid in bronchiectasis:

Wine, dried fruit, pickled food, shrimp, bottled lemon, lime juice, maraschino cherries. Large meals should not be eaten as it puts pressure on the diaphragm and it may trigger asthma and chest tightness.

Foods to eat in bronchiectasis

  • Fruits and vegetables: The aim should be eating at least 4-5 different fruits and vegetables daily so that there is an intake of all the healthy vitamins and minerals.
  • Fibre: Fruits and vegetables are a good source of fibre but along with that whole grain fiber should be taken like whole grain bread, pasta, rice, which are rich in fiber and carbohydrates and healthy.
  • Protein: A diet rich in protein must be taken to keep the chest and abdominal muscles strong which are necessary for breathing. Food like egg, fish, meat, and dairy products are a good source of protein. If you are a vegan then eating then you can eat a variety of legumes, nuts, tofu, to get enough amount of protein.
  • Calcium: Dairy products like milk, cheese, yoghurt are a rich source of calcium if not then eating green leafy vegetables, oranges, almonds, and beans should also be eaten.
  • Oil: oils rich in vitamin E and A such as olive oil, coconut oil, and canola oil must be taken.
  • Water: water is beneficial for lung health as water keeps lung hydrated, thins the mucus and prevents any further infection.
  • Vitamin D: Sometimes people also get this chronic health disease due to the deficiency of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D helps in boosting up the immune system and also helps in reducing inflammation. It is found in eggs, meat, oily fish, milk, orange juice, and fortified cereals.

What is the cost of bronchiectasis treatment in India?

The cost of treatment of bronchiectasis depends upon the severity of the disease and costs up to 3000-5000 rupees.


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Written ByDr. Mool Chand GuptaMD - Pulmonary,MD PULMONARY,DTCDPulmonology
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