Bronchiectasis is a rare condition that affects the lungs damaging the cilia that line inside the airways. Once damaged, the cilia cannot sweep dirt and mucus out of the lungs. The condition bronchiectasis causes the airways to widen and stretch out to even cause little pockets in some cases. Dust, germs and mucus may accumulate in these pockets posing risk of frequent infections in the airways.
Bronchiectasis is usually caused when the airways fail to clear mucus, a slimy substance. An infection or other condition that injures the walls of the airways may cause such situations. Once the mucus builds up, it allows bacteria to grow causing repeated and more severe infections. Each infection causes more damage to the airways. Over time, the airways can't properly move air in and out of the lungs even causing poor supply to organs in the body causing severe health problems.
The condition can affect only a section of one lung or several sections of both the lungs. Bronchiectasis affecting only a part of one lung is usually caused by a blockage rather than another condition. The initial lung damage that causes bronchiectasis usually occurs during childhood. However, the symptoms usually appear much later until the person starts getting repeated lung infections. Common childhood infections such as measles and whooping cough may cause bronchiectasis. However, such causes can be controlled with the proper vaccines and antibiotics.
Common causes of bronchiectasis include conditions such as include cystic fibrosis and primary ciliary. The condition can be congenital affecting infants and children as well as acquired as a result of another condition or factor. Acquired bronchiectasis is more common as compared to congenital form.
Bronchiectasis can be prevented by effectively preventing the lung infections and lung damage that can cause the condition. Vaccines for conditions such as measles and whooping cough help prevent infections that may lead to bronchiectasis. Avoiding pollution and toxic gases, smoke, and other harmful substances can also help protect the lungs. Early and effective treatment of lung infections may also help preserve lung function reducing the risk of bronchiectasis. Treating the underlying cause of bronchiectasis can delay or prevent the progression of the condition.
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