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.

Signs and Symptoms of Bronchiectasis

The most common signs and symptoms of bronchiectasis are:

  • A daily cough that occurs over months or years
  • Daily production of large amounts of sputum (spit). Sputum, which you cough up and spit out, may contain mucus (a slimy substance), trapped particles, and pus.
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath and chest pain
  • Clubbing of the fingers and toes
  • Abnormal lung sounds
  • Over time, cough may produce blood or bloody mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Children may lose weight or not grow at a normal rate

Diagnosis of Bronchiectasis

The following tests are used to diagnose bronchiectasis:

Treatments for Bronchiectasis

There is no cure for Bronchiectasis. However, with proper treatment most people with bronchiectasis can live a normal life. Early diagnosis and treatment of bronchiectasis are important. The sooner your doctor starts treating bronchiectasis and any underlying conditions, the better your chances of preventing further lung damage.

  • Antibiotics for infections
  • Bronchodilator medicines to open airways
  • Mucus-thinning medicines
  • Expectorants to help cough up mucus
  • Physical therapy techniques to help clear mucus
  • Oxygen therapy (if the disease is widespread)
  • Surgery (if the disease is only in one part of the lung or if there is a lot of bleeding)

TPIRC responds to the current Bronchiectasis Landscape

  • Typical late diagnosis after “recurrent pneumonia”
  • Late recognition of severe bacterial and non-bacterial components which leads to repeat hospitalizations and anatomic destruction
  • Late misdiagnosis – lack of pattern recognition resulting in lung scarring, structural lung disease, and early death

TPIRC provides a Bronchiectasis Clinical Center in the United States

  • Currently no bronchiectasis clinical center exists in the United States
  • TPIRC provides physician evaluation, patient education and treatment
  • TPIRC is a clinical hub for bronchiectasis to southern California
  • TPIRC collaborates with Long Beach Memorial Hospital for hospital procedures, respiratory equipment, and rehabilitation
  • TPIRC will incorporate west coast clinical trials for advanced forms of treatment as few exist

TPIRC’s Novel Treatment Approaches include:

  • Redefine the use of antibiotics in this condition
  • Redefine airway clearance
  • Target immune system modification
  • Target pathogen clearance
  • Target pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Target bronchoscopy intervention
  • Target tissue healing and regeneration to avoid long term injury
  • Focus on additional diagnostics, genetics, and epigenetics

TPIRC’s Patient Resource Initiatives

      • Pulmonary Rehabilitation
      • Protocol of Care
      • Medical Equipment Coordination
      • Clinical Trials
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