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Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a chronic lung condition that damages the bronchial tubes of your lungs, affecting air flow. The effects of bronchiectasis cause flareups that can leave you short of breath, and lead to other long-term health concerns.

Specialists at The University of Kansas Health System have collaborated to form a dedicated bronchiectasis care team. Our experts work together to provide you with advanced care that includes specialized evaluations, support groups and access to new research studies so that you can manage the symptoms of bronchiectasis and enjoy a more normal daily life.

What is bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis causes damage to the major airways in the lungs, permanently widening them. This type of damage in your airways makes them less able to effectively remove mucus, which increases the risk for serious infection. Frequent lung infections and airway blockages are both common in bronchiectasis.

Because the lungs cannot function properly, flare-ups are one of the main concerns of bronchiectasis. During a flare-up, or exacerbation, it's hard to catch your breath.

We offer a variety of appointment types. Learn more or call 913-588-1227 to schedule now.

Types of bronchiectasis

Since bronchiectasis can be caused by cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis is usually categorized as either cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis (CFB) or non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis (NCFB).

Bronchiectasis symptoms and risks

The most common symptoms of bronchiectasis include:

  • A chronic cough that typically produces large amounts of mucus
  • Chest pain
  • Clubbing (thickening of the skin under your nails)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing or whistling sounds when you breathe

The chances of developing bronchiectasis increase if you have a related lung condition, like COPD. Recurring pneumonia can also put you at risk for developing bronchiectasis. Additional risk factors for getting bronchiectasis include:

  • Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (an allergic reaction to a fungus called aspergillus)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Immunodeficiency and auto-immune disorders
  • Lung infections or injuries

Bronchiectasis diagnosis and screening

To diagnose bronchiectasis, your doctor will start by taking a complete medical history. Your doctor will also look for underlying conditions that could be responsible for your bronchiectasis symptoms, which can look similar to other disorders.

Test your doctor may use to confirm a bronchiectasis diagnosis include:

  • Blood tests
  • Lung CT scan
  • Chest X-ray
  • Lung function tests, including a sputum culture to show whether your lungs have bacteria in them
  • Bronchoscopy (a lighted camera on a tube that helps your doctor see the inside of your lungs)
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Bronchiectasis treatment

Bronchiectasis is a chronic, progressive condition. There is no cure, so treatments focus on symptom management and improving overall quality of life. If symptoms of bronchiectasis are caused by an underlying condition, then that condition requires treatment first.

Treatment options for bronchiectasis include:

  • Antibiotic medications to treat infections
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Medications that thin mucus and help make your coughs more productive
  • Physical removal of mucus or blockages

Your doctor will also recommend different treatment approaches for managing exacerbated symptoms during a flare-up compared to daily maintenance of symptoms.

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