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Bronchiectasis: it’s a big word for a chronic condition that causes your airways to widen and become flabby and scarred.

The most common cause of bronchiectasis is a lung infection or other condition that injures the walls of your airways or prevents the airways from clearing mucus, like pneumonia or cystic fibrosis. Over time, each infection causes the airways to lose their ability to transfer in and out of the lungs, which can ultimately prevent oxygen from reaching vital organs.

Read more below to read about bronchiectasis symptoms, causes, treatments, and more.

Dr. Mike reviewing test results with a patient

Dr. Mike reviewing test results with a patient

Bronchiectasis Symptoms

If your symptoms are chronic—often lasting years—there’s a good chance that bronchiectasis might be the cause of your troubles. Some of the symptoms of bronchiectasis include:

  • Daily cough (sometimes producing blood)
  • Daily production of excessive phlegm
  • Chest pain

Note: chest pain can also be a warning sign of a heart attack. If you’re concerned about your heart health, call your primary physician or cardiologist for an exam.

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Recurring lung infection
  • Unintentional/unexplained weight loss

It’s important to note that symptoms of bronchiectasis don’t always mean a bronchiectasis is inevitable. Many respiratory ailments and conditions share similar symptoms. The best way to find out if you are suffering from bronchiectasis is to contact your doctor for a full physical examination.

Bronchiectasis Causes

Bronchiectasis almost always happens as a result of damage to the airway walls. Lung infections or chronic lung conditions can cause this damage. Bronchiectasis causes include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Fungal infections
  • Whooping cough or measles
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Immunodeficiency diseases (HIV, AIDS)
  • Chronic pulmonary aspiration
  • Connective tissue diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease)

Bronchiectasis Diagnosis

If you’re experiencing a daily, chronic cough that produces large amounts of mucus or spit, your doctor may suspect bronchiectasis. If bronchiectasis is suspected, your doctor may perform the following tests to diagnose you with bronchiectasis:

  • Chest CT scan
  • Chest x-ray
  • A lung function test
  • Blood tests
  • Sputum (spit) culture
  • A sweat test that measures the level of chloride in your sweat
  • Bronchoscopy (a flexible tube inserted through your mouth/nose into your airways to provide a video image)

Bronchiectasis Treatment

Bronchiectasis has no cure, but there are several treatment options available. After your diagnosis, your doctor will work closely with you to determine the best treatment plan. Bronchiectasis treatments include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Expectorants/mucus-thinning medicine
  • Hydration (to prevent mucus from becoming thick and sticky)
  • Physical therapy of the chest
  • Inhaled corticosteroids
  • Bronchodilators
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Surgery

The Lung Docs: Specialized Pulmonary Care

The Lung Docs provides specialized, state-of-the-art pulmonary care to our patients with bronchiectasis in Chattanooga and the surrounding Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia areas.

Dr. Mike’s Approach

I’m Dr. Mike Czarnecki, “The Lung Doc,” and I’m trained in all areas of pulmonary health, including the diagnosis and treatment of bronchiectasis. I will work with you to formulate a personalized bronchiectasis treatment plan so you can live, laugh, love and breathe better again! To get started, schedule an appointment online or call our office to speak to someone directly. I can’t wait to meet you!