What is Bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis is a condition in which the airways of the lungs are damaged causing them to be abnormally stretched and widened. This stretching and widening is caused by mucus that builds up in the airways as they lose their ability to clear mucus. When mucus can’t be cleared properly, it creates an environment which promotes the growth of bacteria. This leads to frequent and serious lung infections. Each infection causes more damage to the airways. Over time, the airways lose their ability to move air in and out of the lungs. This can prevent sufficient oxygen from reaching other vital organs.
Bronchiectasis can develop at any age. It usually begins in childhood, but symptoms may not appear until much later. Bronchiectasis can be the result of a birth defect (alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency), injury or other diseases, like non tuberculosis mycobacteria, pneumonia and influenza. It can also be caused by a blockage in your airways due to a growth, aspiration or an inhaled foreign object such as a piece of a toy or a nut.
Bronchiectasis can lead to serious health problems, such as respiratory failure (a condition in which not enough oxygen passes from your lungs into your blood), atelectasis (a condition in which one or more areas of your lungs collapse or don’t inflate properly) and heart failure (a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs). Other associated conditions are scoliosis and connective tissue disorders.