Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.
In this Article
- What is bronchiectasis?
- What causes bronchiectasis?
- What are the symptoms of bronchiectasis?
- When should you seek medical care for bronchiectasis?
- How is bronchiectasis diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for bronchiectasis?
- What are the complications of bronchiectasis?
- What is the prognosis for bronchiectasis?
- Bronchiectasis At A Glance
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What causes bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis is caused by damage to the larger airway walls destroying the muscles and elastic tissue layers that allow normal bronchial tubes to contract. This damage decreases the ability of the lung to move and clear secretions that are normally produced in the lung. These pooled secretions cause increased potential for infection like pneumonia and bronchitis, which causes further damage to the bronchial walls. As mentioned above, this results in a vicious cycle in which increased damage leads to increased infection, leading to further damage.
There are three primary types of bronchiectasis. These types are described by their anatomical appearance.
- Cylindrical bronchiectasis is the mildest form and reflects the loss of the
normal tapering of the airways. The symptoms may be quite mild, like a
cough, and usually are discovered on CT scans of the chest.
- Saccular bronchiectasis is more severe, with further distortion of the
airway wall and symptomatically, affected persons produce more sputum.
- Cystic bronchiectasis is the most severe form of bronchiectasis, and fortunately it is the least common form. This often occurred in the pre-antibiotic era when an infection would run its course and the patient would survive with residual lung damage. These patients often would have a chronic productive cough, bringing up a cup or more of discolored mucus each day.
Bronchiectasis also may be congenital or acquired.
Congenital causes of bronchiectasis
- Cystic fibrosis
- Kartagener syndrome
- Young's syndrome
- Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
Acquired causes of bronchiectasis
- Recurrent infection
- Aspiration of foreign bodies or other materials
- Inhalation of toxic gases like ammonia
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease)
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