Pulmonary Hypertension Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a disease characterized by damage to the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. People with bronchiectasis have airways that are loose and scarred. This makes it difficult to clear mucus, which can allow bacteria to grow and cause serious infections. Such damage may also prevent vital organs from getting adequate oxygen, since people with bronchiectasis sometimes have trouble breathing.

Bronchiectasis - Pulmonary Hypertension

Bronchiectasis Causes

Cystic fibrosis (CF), a disease in which mucus blocks lung and digestive passageways, causes about half of bronchiectasis cases.

Other bronchiectasis causes include:

  • Lung immunodeficiency
  • Lung infections
  • Primary ciliary dyskinesia (which limits mucus clearance from lungs)
  • Rheumatic disease (characterized by inflammation).

Bronchiectasis Symptoms

The most common symptom of bronchiectasis is a persistent cough that lasts for months at a time. In some cases, discharge from the cough may contain blood.

Other bronchiectasis symptoms include:

  • Anemia
  • Breath odor
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fever
  • Pale or bluish skin color
  • Recurrent pneumonia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Thickened flesh under nails
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing.

Diagnosis of Bronchiectasis

To diagnose bronchiectasis, doctors often perform chest X-rays, which can show abnormal lung areas and thickened, irregular airway walls. Most often, a computed tomography (CT) scan is used to confirm a bronchiectasis diagnosis. Lung function tests also measure how well lungs deliver oxygen to the blood.

Treatment for Bronchiectasis

In terms of treatment, bronchiectasis symptoms may be fought with the following:

  • Antibiotics
  • Bronchodilators that open airways
  • Expectorants that remove mucus from the lungs
  • Mucus-thinning medicines.

Some ways to aid breathing with bronchiectasis include:

  • Chest physiotherapy (striking the back to loosen mucus)
  • Coughing exercises
  • Oxygen systems
  • Postural drainage (drainage of fluids in the chest area).

Inhaling warm mist and good hydration can also help alleviate discomfort.

In some cases, if these treatments are ineffective, a bronchoscopy (viewing bronchi via a tube through the mouth) or surgery may be necessary.

Complications of Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis complications may include:

  • Bronchial infection
  • Lung abscess
  • Pus between lungs and chest wall
  • Recurrent pneumonia.

At its worst, bronchiectasis can cause all or part of a lung to collapse, which can result in potentially fatal respiratory or heart failure.

Who Is at Risk for Bronchiectasis?

Those between 60 and 80 appear to be at highest risk, and bronchiectasis that is not related to cystic fibrosis is more common among women than men. Those with underlying lung damage or lung infections are also at high risk for bronchiectasis.

What Is Life Like with Bronchiectasis?

With proper treatment, most people with bronchiectasis can lead normal, active lives. However, people with bronchiectasis often need to avoid dust, fumes, gases and smoke, which can trigger symptoms.

Resources

A.D.A.M. Staff. (2010). Bronchiectasis. Retrieved January 7, 2009, from the Google Health Web site: https://health.google.com/health/ref/Bronchiectasis.

Health Central Network Staff. (2010). Bronchiectasis. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from the Health Scout Web site: http://www.healthscout.com/ency/68/715/main.html.

Medoff, B., M.D. (n.d.). Bronchiectasis. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from the Medline Plus Web site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000144.htm.

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Staff. (2009). What is bronchiectasis? Retrieved January 7, 2010, from the NHLBI Web site: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/brn/brn_all.html.