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Patient Support
Lung Disease

What is Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a common lung disease characterized by a chronic infection in small airways that results in some parts of the lung becomes damaged, scarred, and dilated, allowing infected mucus to build up in pockets.

Bronchiectasis results due to injury to the walls of your airways which prevent the clearing of mucus, dust, or germs leading in a collection of bacteria to grow and causing serious lung infections and inability to move air in and out.


Bronchiectasis is caused by chronic infection of the airways. The persistent airway infection and the immune response results in chronic inflammation and results in the symptoms of bronchiectasis.

Conditions associated with bronchiectasis include:


Symptoms of bronchiectasis may take over a month or year to develop. The most common symptom is a persistent cough that’s chronic with large amounts of mucus. The mucus is sometimes yellow or green and it sometimes smells bad. Other symptoms of bronchiectasis include:

When to Call a Doctor

In case one experiences these symptoms then they should immediately refer to the physician or pulmonologist.


Firstly, your doctor will ask you questions related to symptoms and then do a physical examination by listening to your lungs with a stethoscope, he or she may hear abnormal lung sounds. If your doctor suspects you may have bronchiectasis, you will have some tests, which are likely to include:
  1. Chest X-ray – shows if there is any abnormal lung and thickened, irregular airway walls.
  2. Computerized tomography (CT) scans– the most common test for diagnosing bronchiectasis. A CT scan uses a special X-ray machine which shows a precise look of your lungs
  3. Sputum test- to check for bacteria or fungi
  4. Blood tests- to look for any infection or anaemia
  5. Lung function tests- it is done with the help of spirometer which measures your lung capacity by looking at:
Occasionally, your health care professional suggest a bronchoscopy – using a camera in a narrow tube, to look inside your lungs and take samples. Sometimes you’ll have further tests, including genetic blood tests, to try to find out why you’ve developed bronchiectasis.



If you get a chest infection or have a flare-up, you’ll take a course of antibiotics, often for 14 days.

Chest physical therapy (CPT)

Clearing sputum from your lungs is very important and can reduce the number of infections you have and reduce your cough.

CPT is a way of loosening the mucus in your chest.

People usually do CPT while sitting or lying with their heads down (postural drainage).

The therapy helps loosen the mucus, and laying with your head down helps the mucus drain away from your lungs. After you’ve loosened the mucus, it’s easier to cough it up.

People with bronchiectasis often do CPT and cough up mucus three or four times a day.

There are different ways of doing chest physical therapy:

There are also breathing exercises that help loosen mucus. Do consult your physiotherapist for the exercises.

If your sputum is sticky, and hard to cough up, your health care professional may suggest:


People with bronchiectasis can get flare-ups, that is, the time when their symptoms are worse. If you have bronchiectasis, stay as healthy as possible by:

Questions for Your Doctor

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you suffer from recurrent respiratory infections or have noticed other symptoms of bronchiectasis it would be best to consult your general physician. The symptoms can easily be mistaken and confused with other conditions that affect the lungs making an accurate diagnosis all the more important. Your doctor will be able to make a diagnosis and will recommend the necessary tests to confirm his diagnosis. If necessary, he will then refer you to a specialist.

Bronchiectasis itself is not contagious as the condition results from damaged lungs or, to be more precise, the airways of the lungs. Respiratory infections like tuberculosis and whooping cough however, which can cause bronchiectasis, are contagious and anyone with a weakened immune system should exercise caution.