Bronchiectasis occurs when an infection or other condition damages the airways, causing them to become scarred and unable to clear mucus, the slimy substance that helps remove inhaled dust and other particles. When the mucus accumulates, bacteria may grow, leading to repeated lung infections and preventing air from moving properly in and out of the lungs. It can occur at any age, but begins most often in children as a result of cystic fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia, or from an infection such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, or the flu. Symptoms from such airway damage may not appear until later in life.
Bronchiectasis may lead to respiratory failure, heart failure, or lung collapse. Although there is no cure for bronchiectasis, early diagnosis and treatment, along with modern advances in managing diseases such as cystic fibrosis, help patients manage their symptoms and enjoy a good quality of life.
For access to more information about bronchiectasis, visit the American Lung Association’s website.