What is Bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis is a lung condition that causes the permanent abnormal widening and weakening of one or more airways. This makes it difficult to clear mucus out of the lungs, and results in cough, breathing problems, and other symptoms.When mucus stays in the lungs, it makes people with bronchiectasis more likely to get frequent lung infections. Bronchiectasis can also develop if the tissue and muscles that surround the airways are damaged or destroyed.

Risk Factors

Causes of Bronchiectasis

There is no clear cause of bronchiectasis in half of the affected people. Diseases that can cause bronchiectasis usually affect the airway. These diseases include, but are not limited to:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Measles
  • Whooping cough
  • Inhaled objects or gases
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Immunodeficiency (weakened immune system)
  • Allergic bronchopulmonaryaspergillosis (ABPA)

Tests and Diagnosis of Bronchiectasis

Tests that can help diagnose bronchiectasis are:

  • Sputum testing – this helps to see if there is an infection causing bronchiectasis
  • Chest X-ray
  • Chest CT scan
  • Bronchoscopy – the use of a tube to look inside your lungs

Treatment of Bronchiectasis

The damage caused to the lungs by bronchiectasis is permanent, but treatment can help alleviate symptoms and stop the damage getting worse.

Main treatments include:

  • Chest physiotherapy and other exercisesto help clear mucus out of your lungs
  • Medication to help improve airflow within the lungs
  • Medication to block stomach acid
  • Antibiotics to treat any lung infections that develop
  • A lung transplant – A lung transplant is done only in people who have severe disease and meet certain conditions.
  • Smoking cessation


  • An operation may be an option if you have a small local area of lung damage causing symptoms.
    • Cutting out the damaged airway may cure the problem.
  • Surgery may be occasionally considered even if there is widespread bronchiectasis. This may be to cut out an especially bad area of lung that is acting as a nidus for mucus and infection.
  • Surgery is also considered for bronchiectasis in cases where other treatments have not been effective.

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB most commonly affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. TB is easily spread through the air through air droplets. Anyone who comes into contact with these respiratory droplet scan be infected with TB. A TB infection is classified as latent or active. Latent TB means that the bacteria that cause TB are present in the body; however, these bacteria are considered dormant or asleep. Active TB means that the bacteria that causes TB are not considered asleep, but “awake” and actively causing harm to the body.


Symptoms of Tuberculosis

Individuals with TB usually have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Decreased appetite
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue

Tests and Diagnosis of Tuberculosis

TB may be diagnosed with the following:

  • Skin tests – this is known as the purified protein derivative test [PPD] or the tuberculin skin test
  • Blood tests – the interferon gamma release assay may also help to detect TB
  • Chest- X-rays
  • CT scans
  • Sputum tests – sputum is the mucus that comes up when you cough. This mucus can be tested for the bacteria that causes TB

Treatment of Tuberculosis

Medical Treatment

The following medications, depending if the TB is active or latent, are typically used to treat TB:

  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampin
  • Ethambutol
  • Pyrazinamide

Surgical Treatment

  • Surgery may be used to treat TB if the disease does not respond to drug therapies or if the bacteria cause damage to the lungs. TB infections may also spread to other parts of the body, including the heart, which may also require surgical treatment.