Bronchiectasis is an extension or distortion of one or more of the bronchi, which usually occurs in adult age as a result of frequent infections in childhood. With that, the drainage of fluid secreted by bronchial cells is disturbed, so the fluid builds up and is lagging behind in the bronchi, creating a new infection.
Bronchiectasis can also be developed at any time if one of the bronchi is long-term clogged by foreign body or if a part of the bronchi is much narrower than normal since the birth.
The main symptom is coughing, often with large amounts of green or yellow sputum, sometimes dappled with blood. The amount of mucus may be increased if you change the position of the body, especially when lying down. You will be more prone to frequent infections of the lungs whenever you catch a cold, and you can also have halitosis.
Bronchiectasis is now very rare because many infections from childhood, which used to be its main cause, for example, sinusitis and infection of the chest (usually after measles and pertussis) can be prevented with immunization (vaccination) or effectively treated with antibiotics. Tuberculosis, which used to significantly attack the lungs, has become rare, too. Moreover, people who have bronchiectasis can live a normal life because they are being treated with antibiotics at the first sign of a new infection.
What to do?
If you frequently cough up large amounts of green or yellow mucus, consult a doctor who will examine the chest with a stethoscope. For diagnosis it might need and x-ray of the chest and bronchoscopic findings.
Self-help: until you find out the diagnosis, you can’t do anything. If you find out that you have bronchiectasis, put an extreme effort to avoid a cold and sore throat. Do not smoke or expose the lung air in smoky environments. If you have an infection of the lower part of the lungs – which is common in this disorder – your doctor will explain the method of self-help, i.e. the method of “positional drainage”; this is the way that will relieve the bronchial secretion posture in which the bronchus which leads into the affected lung lobe, turned upside down so that the fluid flows under the influence of gravity and can be expectorated. Lying down on the bed so that your head and chest hanging over the edge of the bed 5 to 10 minutes twice a day will significantly cleanse the lungs.
Professional help: at the first sign of infection the doctor will probably give antibiotics and stress that you have to complete a course prescribed, even if you think that the infection went quickly to what you expect. If the disease is confined to a very small part of the bronchus or if the sputum has lots of blood in it, surgical removal of the affected part is recommended.