Treatment for Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a condition in which the airways of the lungs become wider than normal. These airways are called bronchi and bronchioles. Over time, the walls of the airways become thick and scarred. The damaged airways can’t clear mucus as well. Because of this, mucus builds up in the airways. This increases the risk for lung infections. Bronchiectasis is a long-term (chronic) condition.

Types of treatment

Treating the cause of bronchiectasis can help to prevent more damage. For example, you may take antibiotic medicine for an infection caused by bacteria.

Bronchiectasis is a long-term (chronic) condition. There may be times when you have an infection and your symptoms get worse. During these times, you may be given antibiotic medicine to take by mouth.

If oral antibiotic medicine does not work, or if you have severe symptoms, you may need to stay in the hospital. While in the hospital, you may get antibiotic medicine in one of your veins (IV). You will get other treatment to help with breathing and other symptoms. For example, you may be given oxygen.

Surgery is another treatment. Your healthcare provider can tell you more about what kinds of treatment may work best for you.

Possible complications of bronchiectasis

Possible complications of bronchiectasis include:

  • Collapsed lung

  • Respiratory failure, when you don’t have enough oxygen in your blood

  • Heart failure, when your heart can’t pump well

Managing bronchiectasis

Your healthcare provider will talk with you about managing your condition. You can take steps to help prevent bronchiectasis from getting worse, such as:

  • Avoiding people with respiratory infections, if possible

  • Keeping your hands clean by washing with soap and water or using antibacterial gel

  • Getting all the vaccines your health care provider advises

  • Taking antibiotic medicine exactly as prescribed, to treat or to prevent infections

  • Following all instructions to clear mucus from your airways, using special equipment or methods

  • Quitting smoking and staying away from secondhand smoke

Staying healthy with bronchiectasis

You’ll need to take good care of your overall health. Make sure to:

  • Quit smoking, if you smoke. Talk with your healthcare provider. He or she can recommend medicines and programs that can help. Or call the national quit-line at 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669).

  • Make sure you drink a lot of water or other healthy drinks every day.

  • Stay healthy by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk foods, and lean meats.

  • Keep active and get exercise.


When to call the healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Trouble breathing

  • Coughing that gets worse

  • Increased amount of mucus

  • Mucus that’s darker in color

  • Coughing up blood

  • Changes in symptoms or new symptoms