Bronchiectasis is the clinical term for the irreversible, progressive dilation, expansion, inflammation and scarring of the bronchi (tubes conducting air to the lungs), which eventually leads to airway obstruction, impaired mucociliary clearance and harbors microbes, causing further damage.
This rare condition often occurs secondary to another medical condition (e.g.,: cystic fibrosis, sinopulmonary disorders, respiratory tract infections, allergens, etc.) resulting in distortion and damage to one or more of the conducting airways. It’s important to acknowledge the two separately to correctly diagnose and treat both.
According to the British Lung Foundation, in 25 to 50 percent of cases, it’s not possible to know the cause of the bronchiectasis (these cases are called idiopathic bronchiectasis).
However, there are six known causes of the disease:
1. Whooping cough, severe lung infection (mostly during childhood) or measles.
2. Underlying inherited disease, such as primary ciliary dyskinesia or cystic fibrosis.
3. Low levels of antibodies, lack of immunity to infections.
4. Serious allergic response to fungus (moulds). It can usually be linked with asthma.
5. Blockage of the airways.
6. Gastric reflux, where some of the stomach acid travels up the food tube from the stomach and goes into the airways.
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