Bronchiectasis is defined as a lung condition where the airways in the lungs are stretched out and become enlarged.
The condition arises once the airways are impaired, usually by another condition such as cystic fibrosis or infections such as tuberculosis or pneumonia. In some cases, the condition is congenital.
The impaired airways could not effectively eliminate mucus, thus allowing it to buildup. This causes the airways to stretch and lead to swelling and recurrent infections. Once an infection arises, the airways are further damaged which makes it more difficult to breathe.
What are the signs?
The symptoms tend to vary for every individual, but the usual signs include:
- Coughing with mucus
- Abrupt chest pain that feels like stabbing and worsens when breathing in. The discomfort can radiate to the shoulder or abdomen
- Shortness of breath
- Clubbing where the ends of the toes and fingers become swollen and the nails protrude outwards. The nails wrap around the toes or fingers and appear curved, raised and shiny.
Management of bronchiectasis
Bronchiectasis is generally managed with antibiotics, bronchodilators and even expectorants.
The doctor will also instruct the individual on airway clearance to help in coughing up the mucus.
- For postural drainage, the body is moved in various positions to promote drainage of fluid from the lungs. This helps alleviate breathing and lower the risk for infections.
- During chest percussion, the chest is clapped with a cupped hand to shake the airways to allow the individual to expel the mucus easier.
The doctor might also provide an airway clearance apparatus such as a flutter valve to get rid of the mucus within the lungs.
In severe cases of bronchiectasis, the individual might require oxygen therapy or even surgery.