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Bronchiectasis is a condition that causes mucus to collect in your airway. Chronic respiratory infections or inflammation cause the bronchi to become thick. Bronchi are larger airways that help carry air in and out of your lungs. Your lungs make mucus to trap and remove germs and irritants that you breathe. Bronchiectasis prevents your lungs from clearing the mucus. This leads to more infections and inflammation, and scarring in your lungs.

The Lungs


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have sudden chest pain.
  • You have sudden or more severe trouble breathing.
  • You are confused or feel faint.

Call your doctor or pulmonologist if:

  • Your lips or fingernails turn gray or blue.
  • You cough up blood.
  • 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.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Bronchodilators help open the air passages in your lungs.
  • Mucolytics help thin the mucus from your lungs. Thin mucus may be easier to cough up.
  • Steroids help decrease inflammation in your lungs and open your airway so you can breathe easier.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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.


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 more breathing problems.

Do not smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke:

Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage and make breathing problems worse. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Manage bronchiectasis:

  • Go to pulmonary rehabilitation (rehab) as directed. Pulmonary rehab is a program that can help you learn how to manage bronchiectasis and prevent exacerbations. Your plan will include aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, or riding a bicycle. Regular exercise helps your lungs work well and helps keep your airway clear. Rehab can help you increase your ability to exercise for as long as recommended.
    Walking for Exercise
  • Keep your airway clear and open. Do airway clearance techniques as needed. Healthcare providers will show you how to do these in pulmonary rehab. A saline nasal rinse can help clear irritants from your sinuses. Thin mucus by drinking more liquids or using a cool mist humidifier. Keep your head higher than your body when you sleep. If your bed is not adjustable, you can put extra pillows under your upper body to keep your head up.
  • Prevent infections. Stay away from people who are sick. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water, or a gel hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Ask about vaccines you may need. Vaccines can help prevent some lung infections. Examples include the flu, pneumonia, pertussis (whooping cough), tuberculosis (TB), and diphtheria. Get a flu vaccine every year as soon as it becomes available.

Follow up with your doctor or pulmonologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Bronchiectasis (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

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