WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Bronchiectasis is a lung condition that causes your bronchi to permanently widen. Your bronchi are larger airways which help carry air in and out of your lungs. Your lungs make mucus to trap and remove germs and irritants that you breathe. In bronchiectasis, your lungs cannot clear mucus as it would normally. This may lead to infections, inflammation, and scarring in your lungs and may make it difficult to breathe.
- Antibiotics: This medicine helps fight an infection caused by bacteria. Take this medicine as directed.
- Bronchodilators: You may need bronchodilators to help open the air passages in your lungs, and help you breathe more easily.
- Expectorants: Expectorant medicine helps thin your sputum (mucus from the lungs). When sputum is thin, it may be easier for you to cough it up and spit it out. This may make your breathing easier, and may help you get better faster.
- Steroid medicine: Inhaled steroids help decrease inflammation in your lungs and open your airways so you can breathe easier.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or pulmonologist as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
You may be given oxygen through a mask or nasal cannula to help you breathe easier. Oxygen can also decrease the strain on your heart and can help prevent further problems.
Manage your symptoms:
- Airway clearance techniques (ACTs): A respiratory therapist may show you techniques to help you cough up mucus and let you breathe easier. These exercises may be used along with machines or special devices. Ask for more information about airway clearance techniques.
- Get plenty of exercise: Talk to your primary healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise can help loosen mucus in your airways and help you breathe easier.
- Drink liquids as directed: Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Liquids help thin mucus, which may make it easier for you to cough it up.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
Prevent bronchiectasis from getting worse:
- Stay away from people who are sick: This decreases your chance of getting sick.
- Vaccines: Get an influenza vaccine every year as soon as it becomes available. Get a pneumococcal vaccine every 5 years. These help to prevent influenza (flu) and pneumonia.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking can irritate your airways and make your condition worse. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
Contact your primary healthcare provider or pulmonologist if:
- You have a fever.
- You cough more than usual or wheeze.
- Your medicines do not relieve your symptoms.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You cough up blood.
- Your lips or fingernails turn gray or blue.
- You are confused or feel faint.
- You have sudden or more severe trouble breathing.
- You have sudden chest pain.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.