Bronchiectasis is a chronic respiratory condition and a rare Lung disease that is characterized by persistent chronic cough.
Bronchiectas is the Permanent and abnormal widening of bronchi or bronchioles which are the airway tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. If the condition is present at birth, it is called congenital bronchiectasis. If the condition develops later in life, it is called acquired bronchiectasis.
What is Bronchiectasis ?
Bronchiectasis is the other name for the severe infection and inflammation of the branches of the windpipe inside the lung. In this conditions of bronchiectasis, the wall of the windpipes due to infection and inflammation becomes unusually weak. On account of these changes, the branches of the windpipes are no longer able to maintain their tubular shape and in the process, assume abnormal shapes like that of a balloon or cylinder. This weakened wall of the windpipe is unable to throw out the sputum collected inside the branches of the windpipe. This results in the accumulation of a large amount of phlegm inside the windpipe.
This stagnation of sputum blocks the tubes as well as branches of windpipe connected to the lung tissue. As a result of the obstruction, the part of the lung supplied (attached to) by these tubes, gets damaged and constricted due to destruction. This leads to a state of inflated lung like a balloon. The lymph nodes and blood pipes adjacent to the destroyed lung also become enlarged. The net result of these changes is that the damaged lung as well as the windpipe is unable to function properly and the affected patient develops a lot of complications.
- Recurrent chest infections
- Breathing difficulty or Breathlessness
- Recurrent episodes of unrelenting cough which disturbs you a lot
- Passing of a very thick and pus-like phlegm during coughing
- Sometimes, a cough bout lasts longer and there appears a gurgling sound during breathing
All these complaints lead to one suspicion: you are probably suffering from bronchiectasis of the lung. Take this disease seriously right now, otherwise you might face unpleasant and tormenting complications in future.
The main reason for developing bronchiectasis is the recurrent infection in the windpipe and its branches. The main cause of the recurrent infection of the lung is the infection of pneumonia. If pneumonia is not controlled effectively in its early stages, the problem of bronchiectasis of the lung may emerge in the course of time.
The second important reason for the development of bronchiectasis is the tubercular infection. After proper medication, although tubercular infection leaves the lung, it makes a lasting impression on the lung and windpipe before leaving. As a result, the anatomy of these structures undergoes a change. This alteration in anatomical structure helps other types of germs to settle inside permanently. These germs start disturbing the normal function of the windpipe. This is where bronchiectasis starts. In some persons, the bronchiectasis of the lung is present since birth. In children, the common cause of bronchiectasis is generally cystic fibrosis, a congenital disease.
Sometimes, deficiency in blood of a special enzyme called Alpha-1 antitrypsin, the presence of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases become important causes of the development of bronchiectasis. Generally children are in the habit of putting small things, like peanuts, coins and fish bones into their mouths. These small things when swallowed by children, some times, actually enter the windpipe instead of entering the food pipe and thereafter going down the windpipe blocking it. At this point, part of the lung supplied by the blocked pipe starts developing bronchiectasis.
Bronchiectasis Guidelines : What To Do If You Are Suffering From Bronchiectasis ?
If you are a sufferer of bronchiectasis, immediately consult a thoracic surgeon and always go to of modern investigations like broncoscopy, thoracoscopy, spiral CT, angiography and bronchial artery embolisation is available. The role of a chest X-ray and spiral CT is very significant in evaluating bronchiectasis. On the basis of these results, we can say with surety which part of the lung and windpipe is diseased and destroyed. All this information helps formulating the correct treatment strategy.
A patient suffering from bronchiectasis should either on his own consult an experienced thoracic surgeon or request his physician to arrange consultation with a thoracic or chest surgeon. It has been observed in India that the surgeon who is more involved with heart surgery does not have much experience with lung surgery. Therefore, one should go to a hospital where lung surgery is routinely done and a 24-hour availability of a full-time thoracic surgeon is there For the successful and effective treatment of bronchiectasis, it is essential to find the cause of it.
For the purpose of effective treatment, the correct use of antibiotics is most desirable. All efforts always should be put to remove sputum from the damaged windpipe. Some special medicines like bronchodilators and mucolytic agents have proved effective to some extent. Some special physical postures and physiotherapy are helpful in the effective removal of phlegm.
Bronchiectasis Surgery And It’s Role In Treatment Of Bronchiectasis
If any part of the lung has already been destroyed due to bronchiectasis, it is a wise step to get that damaged part removed by a thoracic surgeon, otherwise the healthy part adjacent to the damaged one will get diseased. A majority of physicians underestimate the effective role of surgery in the treatment of bronchiectasis and therefore patients of bronchiectasis are deprived of the timely and correct advice of surgery. It is harmful to leave the damaged part of the lung as such inside the chest.
Sometimes, patients of bronchiectasis pass a large amount of blood during coughing. This puts their lives at risk.Therefore, patients of bronchiectasis should not sit idle, if the amount of blood coughed out has increased significantly. Such patients should immediately go to a large hospital and consult a thoracic surgeon, who can find ways to control bleeding either through embolisation or surgery to save patients’ lives.
The patients of bronchiectasis should start correct treatment during initial days, otherwise if both the lungs are engulfed by bronchiectasis completely, there will be no alternative to a lung transplant.
Bronchiectasis Life Expectancy
As per National Health Service (NHS) of UK, “Living with bronchiectasis can be stressful and frustrating, but most people with the condition will have a normal life expectancy”.