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Bronchiectasis

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.


CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection after lung surgery. If bronchiectasis is not treated, your airways may become filled with mucus. This may make it difficult to breathe. As more airway damage happens you may get lung conditions such as emphysema (air trapped in tiny sacs). Pressure can grow in your pulmonary artery (blood vessel) and lead to heart failure. Respiratory failure or bleeding may be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicine:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine helps fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • 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.

Tests:

  • Blood tests: A sample of your blood may be sent to the lab for tests to help find the cause of your bronchiectasis. The tests may also be used to make sure organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are working correctly.

  • Sputum sample: Sputum (mucus) is collected in a cup when you cough. The sample is sent to a lab to find out if you have an infection.

  • Chest x-ray: This is used to look at your lungs and airways to check for the cause of bronchiectasis.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your chest and airways. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

  • Pulmonary function tests: Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) help caregivers learn how well your body uses oxygen. You breathe into a mouthpiece connected to a machine. The machine measures how much air you breathe in and out over a certain amount of time. PFTs help your caregivers decide the best treatment for you.

Treatment:

  • Airway clearance techniques (ACTs): Your respiratory therapist may show you ACTs that make it easier for you to cough up mucus. ACTs may help decrease your symptoms.

    • ACTs:

      • Controlled breathing: This is a technique where you breathe gently, slowly, and deeply. You may also need to breathe out air as fast as you can, which will help force mucus out of your airways.

      • Chest expansion exercises: These help you completely fill your lungs with air by letting your abdomen swell as you breathe in.

      • Forced expiration technique: Coughing is a forceful response to something irritating your airway. Forced expiration, or huffing, is less forceful and tiring. You use muscles in your chest and abdomen to breath out, similar to breathing on a mirror.

      • Percussion: This involves having another person forcefully pat on your back with a cupped hand or soft plastic cup. It helps loosen mucus stuck in your airways. Percussion may also be done with an electric percussor.

      • Postural drainage: This therapy helps drain mucus from different parts of your lung. Your caregiver will show you the body positions used in this therapy.

    • ACTs with equipment:

      • High-frequency chest wall oscillation: This uses a vest that you wear. It attaches to a machine that causes the vest to vibrate your chest.

      • Oscillating positive-end pressure therapy: This method uses a small, pocket-sized device that works by vibrating your airways as you breathe out through it. You breathe in until you fill your lungs, and then hold your breath for 2 to 3 seconds. You then put the device tightly to your mouth and breathe out normally through it.

      • Positive expiratory pressure therapy (PEP): This therapy uses a device that keeps some air in your airways when you breathe out. This helps prevent mucus from getting trapped in your small airways, making it easier to cough it up.

  • Oxygen: This may be given 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.

  • Surgery: The part of your lung causing your symptoms may need to be removed. You may also need a lung transplant if your symptoms become severe. Ask for more information about the types of surgery.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.

Learn more about Bronchiectasis (Inpatient Care)

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