Bronchiectasis diagrams courtesy of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institue (USA)

Bronchiectasis, a permanent dilation (enlargement) of the airways, can be caused by many different factors including asthma, pneumonia and pulmonary aspiration of refluxate from the gastrointestinal tract.

The damaged airways are found towards the bottom of the lungs and are characterised by thickened walls and production of excess mucous.

Symptoms may include excess mucous, cough, frequent chest infections, shortness of breath and coughing up blood.

Crackling sounds may be heard on breathing in and low pitched snoring sounds or wheezing.

It can lead to pulmonary heart disease.

Since the damage is permanent, treatment is directed at preventing further damage.which can include antibiotics and physiotherapy including ACBT as mentioned for Pneumonia treatment.

Pulmonary Fibrosis

Also called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) when the actual cause is unknown, the permanent scarring damaging the airways may be caused by irritants aspirated into the lungs from airborne particles (eg smoke) or refluxed from the oesophagus.

Figure A shows the location of the lungs and airways in the body. The inset image shows a detailed view of the lung's airways and air sacs in cross-section.

Figure B shows fibrosis (scarring) in the lungs. The inset image shows a detailed view of the fibrosis and how it damages the airways and air sacs