Bronchiectasis (cont.)

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What are the symptoms of bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis develops over a prolonged period of time.

Common symptoms include recurrent cough and sputum production. Usually the mucus is clear, but it may be bloody due to bronchial wall injury or green or yellow if infection is present. Shortness of breath and fatigue develop as lung function decreases. Wheezing may or may not be present.

If the disease progresses or if it is poorly controlled, the amount of work required to breathe increases and weight loss and diminished quality of life may occur.

Bronchiectasis may occur due to another underlying disease. Symptoms of that primary disease may also be present. For example, a patient with tuberculosis may have bloody sputum, fever, chills, and night sweats. A person with Crohn's disease may have abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Congenital bronchiectasis often becomes apparent because of recurrent pneumonia.

When should you seek medical care for bronchiectasis?

Any person with unexplained shortness of breath or chronic cough should seek medical care.

Usually, people who develop bronchiectasis do so over a prolonged period of time. They seek medical care because of chronic cough, a progressive increase in sputum production, and/or, shortness of breath at rest or exercise. Recurrent pneumonia is also a reason that people may seek care. The symptoms of pneumonia include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Bronchiectasis may cause hemoptysis (coughing up blood). This is never normal, and medical attention is needed if hemoptysis occurs. Other reasons for coughing up blood include bronchitis, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, tuberculosis, pulmonary emboli (blood clots in the vessels of the lung), and lung tumors.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/11/2013

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