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Bronchiectasis

     Bronchiectasis is a lung disease, which is characterized by the permanent damage and widening of one or more of the large connecting bronchi (airways). Infections cause a change in the muscular and elastic components of the bronchial wall, which then become distorted and enlarged. This enlargement can be uniform or irregular. It begins a cycle in which the airways slowly lose their ability to clear mucus. As the mucus builds up, serious lung infections can then occur, which can cause more damage to the bronchi. This results in the vicious cycle of bronchial damage, bronchial dilation, inability to clear secretions, reoccurring infection and more bronchial damage. Over time, the airways become chronically inflamed, more stretched out, scarred and easily collapsed, resulting in airflow obstruction. In advanced cases, this can affect how much oxygen reaches the body's organs, leading to other serious illnesses involving damage to those critical organs.

There are two basic types of bronchiectasis:

      Congenital bronchiectasis is present at birth, usually only affects infants and children, and is the result of developmental arrest of the bronchial tree in the fetus.

      Acquired bronchiectasis occurs in adults and older children and is the more common form. Some of the more common causes are:

The symptoms for bronchiectasis fall into two broad categories.

      The most common symptoms in early stages of bronchiectasis are:

      The more serious longer term symptoms and conditions occurring in more advanced stages of bronchiectasis in addition to the above may include:

Diagnosing bronchiectasis:
    
This involves a series of tests designed to identify underlying causes of any symptoms and to determine the amount of damage to the lungs. Since the symptoms for bronchiectasis are very similar to other conditions such as chronic asthma and chronic bronchitis, a major part of the diagnosis involves eliminating the possible other conditions. The most common tests are:

There are three classifications of bronchiectasis which describe the severity of the condition:

Treating and managing bronchiectasis.
     Early diagnosis and treatment plans are designed primarily to slow the progression of the disease, and to prevent additional damage to the lungs.

The prognosis for people with bronchiectasis is quite varied and dependent on a number of factors, including:

 

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