Bronchiectasis is a chronic lung disease which affects one in 1000 adults causing permanent enlargement of the airways which leads to an excessive build up of mucus. Patients cough to expel the mucus. ‘Coughs associated with this condition are usually worse in the morning as people clear their chest,’ explains Dr Richard Russell, honorary medical adviser at the British Lung Foundation. ‘There can be spasms and paroxysms where people clear their chests and bring up a lot of sputum which can be green and brown because it has lots of pus and dead white cells in it.’
This disease can develop as a result of a lung infection in childhood such as pneumonia, or allergy to a certain type of fungi that causes the airways to become inflamed when the spores are inhaled. It is a lifelong condition.
The damage caused by this disease is irreversible but most people with the disease have a normal life expectancy. The main treatment includes physiotherapy or special devices used at home that help clear the airways. Antibiotics can also treat any infections that develop.