What are the symptoms of Bronchiectasis?
The signs and symptoms of bronchiectasis develop and change over time. The most common symptoms of bronchiectasis include:
- A persistent cough that usually brings up phlegm (sputum)
- As the disease progresses, chronic coughing with mucous production increases and the person usually becomes more fatigued and short of breath as lung function decreases.
The severity of symptoms can vary widely. Some people have only a few symptoms that don't appear often, while others have wide-ranging daily symptoms. The symptoms tend to get worse if you develop an infection in your lungs.
You should contact your doctor for medical care if you have a chronic cough (lasting about three weeks or more), a new onset of shortness of breath and/or any coughing up blood (hemoptysis). Individuals who have repeated bouts of pneumonia and increased sputum production should also seek medical care.
What are the causes of Bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis can develop if the tissue and muscles that surround the bronchi are damaged or destroyed.
There are many reasons why this may happen. The three most common causes are:
A lung infection during childhood, such as pneumonia or whooping cough, that damages the bronchi
Underlying problems with the immune system (the body’s defence against infection) that make the bronchi more vulnerable to damage from an infection
Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) – an allergy to a certain type of fungi that can cause the bronchi to become inflamed if spores from the fungi are inhaled
However, in many cases of bronchiectasis, no obvious cause for the condition can be found (known as idiopathic bronchiectasis).
What are the types of Bronchiectasis?
There are three primary types of bronchiectasis. These types are defined by their anatomical/microscopic appearance.
Cylindrical bronchiectasis, the mildest form of bronchiectasis that shows the loss of normal airway tapering.
Saccular or varicose bronchiectasis shows further distortion of the airway wall along with more mucous and sputum production by the individual; some of the bronchi may appear to be in a beaded form.
Cystic bronchiectasis. The most severe form of bronchiectasis and the least common form is cystic bronchiectasis. This form has large air spaces and a honeycombed appearance in CT scan studies and usually has thicker walls than the blebs seen with emphysema. Some people have more than one type in their lungs.