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Treatment of Bronchiectasis

Immediate Treatment of Lung Infections Lessens Chances of Bronchiectasis

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Updated April 17, 2014

Bronchiectasis is a result of an abnormal widening of the airways caused by inflammation and infection. When the airways become enlarged, mucus pools in them causing airway obstruction and accumulation of bacteria. As mucus and subsequent bacteria accumulate, repeated cycles of inflammation, infection and airway obstruction occur.

The goal of bronchiectasis treatment is to control lung infections, promote drainage of excessive secretions and prevent complications. In fact, the chances of bronchiectasis developing decrease with immediate treatment of lung infections.

Treatment may include any of the following:

1. Antibiotics

Used to treat many types of infections, antibiotics are also commonly used to treat lung infections associated with bronchiectasis. Antibiotics can be given orally or intravenously. To avoid antibiotic resistance, be sure to take the entire course of antibiotics, even if you feel better.

2. Bronchodilators

How to use an inhaler
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

A bronchodilator is a common medication used in the treatment of bronchiectasis. Bronchodilators work by relaxing and expanding the airways, making it easier to breathe. Common bronchodilator medications include albuterol and Atrovent.

3. Expectorants

Robitussin
Photo courtesy of Getty Images, user Scott Olson

Expectorants help loosen mucus, making it easier for it to be expelled from the airways through coughing. Common expectorants are Robitussin and Mucinex.

4. Avoiding Respiratory Irritants

Respiratory irritants can exacerbate symptoms of bronchiectasis. Quitting smoking, and avoiding secondhand smoke and air pollution are 3 things that you can do to help prevent bronchiectasis.

5. Annual Flu Shot

Flu Shots
Photo c flickr.com, user foreversouls

Flu shots not only help prevent the flu, but they can also help prevent exacerbation of bronchiectasis. Ask your healthcare provider what you can do about getting your annual flu shot.

6. Chest Physiotherapy: Postural Drainage

Postural Drainage of the Lower Lobes Superior Segments
Artwork © Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN

Postural drainage is an airway clearance technique that uses gravity to help drain mucus from certain parts of the lungs. Postural drainage may be used with other forms of chest physiotherapy to further loosen secretions so they can be expelled from the airways easier.

7. Chest Physiotherapy: Percussion and Vibration

Hand Position for Chest Percussion
Artwork © Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN

Along with postural drainage, percussion and vibration help further mobilize and loosen secretions, making it easier for them to be expelled from the airways. Percussion and vibration can be performed using your hands, or with a manual percussive device.

8. Surgical Lung Resection

For those who do not respond well to treatment, and if bronchiectasis is confined to a specific portion of the lungs, surgical removal of that part of the lung may be an option. It is important to note, however, that surgical resection of the lung is not for everyone. Talk with your healthcare provider for more information.

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