In case of bronchiectasis, the symptoms often develop slowly, and surface only after a certain period, from the time of infection. It is essential to undergo prompt treatment for this lung disorder, lest it results in life-threatening complications.
The respiratory system is one of the most important body systems, without which survival is impossible. This vital system consists a pair of lungs, bronchi, and a trachea (or wind pipe). The respiratory system performs the function of supplying oxygen. Since the lungs are exposed more to the environment when compared to other organs in the body, they are more susceptible to various infections and diseases. One such infection that affects the lungs, especially the bronchi or the air passages, is bronchiectasis.
Persistent or continuous infection or inflammation of the air passages due to the presence of foreign bodies or pathogens, is one of the leading causes of this condition. This can result in the enlargement of air passages in an abnormal manner and lead to the accumulation of excess mucus. Hence, it is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
There are two types of bronchiectasis – congenital and acquired. Congenital bronchiectasis is a birth defect, caused due to a faulty gene inherited from either of the parent. This defect is also known as immotile cilia syndrome, due to lack of sufficient cilia in the air passages. As the name suggests, acquired bronchiectasis is contracted due to various reasons. Some of the causes of this condition are smoking, both active and passive, and inhalation of contaminated air or toxic fumes.
As Seen in Congenital Bronchiectasis
- Cyanosis or bluish appearance of the skin, especially the lips
- Clubbing of the limbs can also be observed
- The individual may be a victim of recurring lung infections.
- Wheezing sound while breathing
- The cilia (tiny, fine protective hair) are underdeveloped or are absent, due to which the airways are obstructed.
- Persistent cough, with bad smelling sputum
- Unable to sleep on one side for a long time
- Pale and lethargic feeling, accompanied by body ache
- Children may be irritable and cry a lot.
Observed During Acquired Bronchiectasis
- Mild to moderate chest pain, which aggravates while coughing
- Foul breath
- Traces of blood in the sputum
- Shortness of breath or dyspnea, which worsens after strenuous work or exercise
- Unexplained weight loss
- Noticing tightness in the chest while taking a deep breath
Though bronchiectasis does not have a cure, appropriate treatment can control the symptoms and prevent further infections. Before administering any treatment method, the doctor may perform a few diagnostic tests to determine the exact cause and severity of symptoms. The patient may have to undergo chest X-ray, CT scan for a detailed study and sputum culture, and blood tests etc. The doctor may also review the medical history of the patient. Once all the diagnostic tests are performed, the doctor may prescribe medication according to the patient’s complaint.
Antibiotics can be prescribed to fight against the infection. Certain medications may also be prescribed to drain out the excess mucus and clear the air passages. In case of severity, the diseased part of the lungs is surgically removed to avoid any complications. Some preventive measures include, routine immunization to keep infections and diseases at bay, quitting smoking, following a healthy diet plan, and drinking plenty of water and fluids.
With proper treatment and care, bronchiectasis can be brought under control. The prognosis of this condition also has a positive outcome and individuals with this respiratory disorder can live like a normal person, without suffering from any disability. Wish you a healthy and disease-free life! Take care!