Respiratory, Critical Care, and Sleep Specialists
Pulmonology & Critical Care located in Des Plaines, IL & Portage Park, Chicago, IL
Bronchiectasis is a chronic condition that leads to frequent blockages and infections in your airways. The experts at Respiratory, Critical Care, and Sleep Specialists diagnose and treat bronchiectasis at three clinics in Chicago, Des Plaines, and Oak Park, Illinois. If you think you may have bronchiectasis, call or book an appointment online today.
Bronchiectasis Q & A
What is bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis happens when the bronchial tubes, or airways, in your lungs become permanently damaged and thickened from inflammation and infection. This can leave your airways more susceptible to infections from bacteria and other microbes.
People with bronchiectasis experience periods of worsened symptoms, called exacerbations, as well as periods of good health. Without treatment, bronchiectasis causes your lung function to decline over time. However, the team at Respiratory Critical Care and Sleep Specialists can help you manage your symptoms and live a normal life.
What causes bronchiectasis?
Anything that damages your lungs can cause bronchiectasis, including cigarette smoking. Lung infections are a major cause of bronchiectasis. Other diseases that damage the lungs or increase your risk of lung infections include:
- Cystic fibrosis, which causes about half of bronchiectasis cases in the United States
- Severe pneumonia
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Measles or whooping cough
- Fungal infections
- Congenital lung development problems
Diseases that suppress your immune system, like HIV, can also increase your risk of lung infections and bronchiectasis.
What are the symptoms of bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis symptoms typically develop slowly over time and may include:
- Coughing up discolored mucus every day
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- A wheezing or whistling sound when you breathe
- Chest pain
You may also notice a thickening of the flesh beneath your fingernails and toenails (clubbing). Some people with bronchiectasis have few symptoms, or none at all. Others experience symptoms on a daily basis.
How is bronchiectasis diagnosed and treated?
First, your Respiratory Critical Care and Sleep Specialists provider carefully reviews your symptoms and medical history. They perform a physical exam, checking for abnormal sounds or signs of blocked airways. They also take tests, which may include:
- Complete blood test
- Chest X-ray or computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Sputum culture
- Pulmonary function tests
- Sweat test or genetic testing to check for cystic fibrosis
After they diagnose your bronchiectasis, the team at Respiratory Critical Care and Sleep Specialists develops a respiratory therapy plan to help you manage your symptoms. Depending on your needs, treatment may include:
- Oral medications, such as antibiotics and decongestants
- Inhaled steroids and/or bronchodilators
- Physical therapy
- Oxygen therapy
If you have symptoms of bronchiectasis, call Respiratory Critical Care and Sleep Specialists or book an appointment online today.