Bronchiectasis treatment consists of medicines, hydration, and chest physical therapy (CPT) prescribed by your doctor. Your doctor may recommend surgery when the bronchiectasis is isolated to only a section of the lung or if you have a lot of bleeding.
Your doctor may also recommend oxygen therapy, if the bronchiectasis is widespread and causing respiratory failure.
Goals of Treatments for Bronchiectasis are to:
- ~Treat any underlying conditions and lung infections.
- ~Remove mucus (a slimy substance) from your lungs.
- ~Maintain good hydration to help with mucus.
- ~Prevent complications.
Most importantly, early diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause of bronchiectasis may help prevent further lung damage.
In addition, doctors will treat any disease associated with the bronchiectasis, such as cystic fibrosis or immunodeficiency.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, bronchodilators, expectorants, or mucus-thinning medicines to treat bronchiectasis.
The main treatment for the repeated lung infections that bronchiectasis causes are antibiotics. These infections are often treated with oral antibiotics.
For hard-to-treat infections, your doctor may prescribe intravenous (IV) antibiotics. These medicines are given through an IV line, which doctors insert into your arm.
Also, your doctor may help you arrange for a home care provider to give you IV antibiotics at home.
Expectorants and Mucus-Thinning Medicines
Your doctor may prescribe expectorants and mucus thinners to help you cough up mucus.
Expectorants help loosen the mucus in your lungs and they often are combined with decongestants. These medications may provide extra relief. Mucus thinners, such as acetylcysteine, loosen the mucus to make it easier to cough up.
Drinking plenty of fluid, especially water, helps prevent airway mucus from becoming thick and sticky. Good hydration helps keep airway mucus moist and slippery, which makes it easier to cough up.
Chest Physical Therapy
CPT is called physiotherapy (FIZ-e-o-THER-ah-pe) and is also called chest clapping or percussion. A respiratory therapist generally performs this technique, but it can also be done by a trained member of the family.
CPT involves the therapist pounding your chest and repeatedly with his or her hands or a device. This vibration helps loosen the mucus from your lungs, so you can cough it up.
You can sit with your head tilted down or lie on your stomach with your head down, while you do CPT. Gravity and force help drain the mucus from your lungs.
Some people find CPT hard or uncomfortable to do. Several devices can help with CPT such as:
- • An electric chest clapper, known as a mechanical percussor.
- • An inflatable therapy vest that uses high-frequency airwaves to force mucus toward your upper airways, so you can cough it up.
- • A small handheld device through which you breathe out.
- • A mask that creates vibrations to help break loose mucus from your airway walls.
Some of these methods and devices are popular with patients and doctors, but little information is available on how well they actually work. A patient and doctor usually choose based on convenience and cost.
Patients can use several breathing techniques to help move mucus to the upper airway so that they can cough it up and out. These techniques include forced expiration technique (FET) and active cycle breathing (ACB).
FET involves forcing out a couple of breaths and then doing relaxed breathing. ACB is FET that involves deep breathing exercises.
Depending on your condition, your doctor also may recommend bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, oxygen therapy, or surgery.
Bronchodilators relax the muscles around your airways, opening them up to allow for easier breathing. You inhale most bronchodilator medicines. You will use an inhaler or a nebulizer to breathe in a fine mist of medicine.
Inhaled bronchodilators work quickly, because the medicine goes straight to your lungs, resulting in your doctor’ recommendation that you use a bronchodilator right before you do CPT.
Your doctor may prescribe inhaled corticosteroids, which treat inflammation in the airways, if you also have wheezing or asthma with your bronchiectasis.
Oxygen therapy can help raise low blood oxygen levels. Nasal prongs or a mask will deliver the oxygen through your nose. You can do this treatment at home, in a hospital, or in another health facility. (For more information, go to the Health Topics Oxygen Therapy article.)
If no other treatments have helped and only part of your airway is affected, your doctor may recommend surgery. If you have major bleeding in your airway, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove part of your airway or do a procedure to control the bleeding.
In very rare instances of severe bronchiectasis, your doctor may recommend that you receive a lung transplant to replace your diseased lungs with a healthy set of lungs.
Heather and Logan’s Treatment
Logan does lung therapy when he is sick. Heather does lung therapy for 1 hour, two times each day. She had a severe case of pneumonia in 2008, which required surgery and several months of IV antibiotics and lung clearing therapy.
They both wash their hands often and are careful not to touch services when they are in public places.
Being sick with a common cold can be life-threatening for Heather and Logan. We are grateful that they haven’t had any portions of their lungs removed. We appreciate our doctors and all the medications and treatments used to keep them both as healthy as possible.
Source for the information above is from: The National Institute of Health: National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute.