Bronchiectasis (bron-kee-ek'-tas-is) is a lung disease that usually results from an infection or other condition that injures the walls of the airways in your lungs. The airways are the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs.
This injury is the beginning of a cycle in which your airways slowly lose their ability to clear out mucus. The mucus builds up and creates an environment in which bacteria can grow. This leads to repeated serious lung infections. Each infection causes more damage to your airways.
Over time, your airways become stretched out, flabby, and scarred. They can no longer move air in and out.
This can affect how much oxygen reaches your body organs. If your lungs cannot move enough oxygen into your body, bronchiectasis can lead to serious illness, including heart failure.
Bronchiectasis can affect just one section of one of your lungs or many sections of both lungs.
Bronchiectasis usually begins in childhood, but symptoms may not appear until months or even years after you have started having repeated lung infections.
There are two types of bronchiectasis:
- Congenital bronchiectasis usually affects infants and children. It results from a problem in the development of the lungs in the fetus.
- Acquired bronchiectasis occurs in adults and older children. It is more common.
Bronchiectasis cannot be cured, but with proper care, most people who have it can enjoy a good quality of life.