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The pathophysiology of bronchiectasis isn’t always easy to understand. We’re here to help.
Although less common in nature than the more pronounced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung diseases such as bronchiectasis can prove to be a difficult form of lung disease for those with the condition. As this disease is caused by a variety of factors that are most commonly unrelated to smoking, the prevalence of this disease in the greater U.S. society has gradually declined over the years. However, the fact still remains that bronchiectasis continues to affect the lives of many Americans contributing to a lower quality of life overall. As the advancement of technology continues to improve in the field of medicine by creating a new wave of emerging treatment options, understanding one’s disease is critical to discovering the best treatment methods available.
With your health mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you more insight in Understanding Bronchiectasis: What It Is and How to Treat It.
An Overview: What Is Bronchiectasis?
In short, bronchiectasis is a pulmonary condition characterized by the intense thickening of the lungs’ bronchial walls. Resulting in inflammation and often infection, intense mucus build-up is the primary effect of this condition, leading to breathing difficulties and frequent exacerbations.
In these cases, lung function will decline gradually over a number of years, although periods of good and bad health can be expected. The causes of bronchiectasis are often unassociated with smoking as in the case of other more common lung diseases. Testing and determination of this condition is usually discovered through a blood test, CT scan or through the examination of an individual’s mucus.
In many cases the root causes of bronchiectasis stem primarily from inhaling foreign objects or food, breathing in stomach acid, cystic fibrosis, GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) and a weakness in your immune system. Today, it affects between 1 per 1000 and 1 per 250,000 Americans and is most common in women and older adults.
The typical symptoms of bronchiectasis include:
- Coughing up yellow or green mucus every day
- Shortness of breath that gets worse during exacerbations
- Feeling run-down or tired, especially during exacerbations
- Fevers and/or chills, usually developing during exacerbations
- Wheezing or a whistling sound while you breathe
- Coughing up blood or mucus mixed with blood, a condition called hemoptysis
Fortunately, due to the increased immunization of children against diseases such as measles, pertussis, pneumonia and other acute respiratory infections of childhood, the rate of bronchiectasis development is actually on the decline. However, it should be stated that although bronchiectasis isn’t predominantly caused by smoking, smoking can still be an irritant and should be avoided.
So, What Can I Do About It?
When it comes to the treatment of bronchiectasis, the best treatment is prevention. As we mentioned above, early childhood immunization can have a sizeable effect on proactively stopping the development of bronchiectasis. However, for those who’ve already developed the condition, the primary problem of the disease is inflammation, infection and mucus build-up. These three conditions must be addressed directly. Antibiotics can be helpful in fighting against bacterial infection from within the lungs, while stronger versions of antibiotics called Macrolides can serve to kill bacteria as well as lower inflammation. Confronting mucus on the other hand can be handled through the use of a mucus thinner and an expectorant. The thinner will thin the mucus within the body, while the expectorant will help make it easy to cough out.
So What’s Next?
Bronchiectasis isn’t fun, and although quality of life isn’t as hampered as it is for those with conditions such as COPD or pulmonary fibrosis, the symptoms of the disease can be equally debilitating. To address the progressive symptoms of lung disease, the first step in this process is to quit smoking. The second is to address your lifestyle through simple diet and exercise changes. With these behavioral changes, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with bronchiectasis, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema. However, when lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider cellular therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, cellular therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic lung disease like COPD, PF or ILD, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult cellular therapy options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for cellular therapy, and find out what cellular therapy could mean for you.
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