Bronchiectasis and NTM Programs

Bronchiectasis is when your lungs get thicker due to infection or inflammation. It tends to affect the airways (called bronchial tubes) that branch from the trachea into each lung. This condition makes it difficult for your body to clear bacteria and mucus from your lungs. You may find yourself coughing, short of breath, and needing to spit. The Mount Sinai Bronchiectasis Program can diagnose and treat this condition so you can function normally.

Causes of Bronchiectasis

You might be born with bronchiectasis or it might develop over time. The most common causes are:

  • Infections: A variety of types of infections can lead to bronchiectasis. These include viral (such as measles or influenza), bacterial (including pseudomonas aeruginosa or staphylococcus aureus), mycobacterial (such as tuberculosis), and fungal infections (e.g., histoplasmosis).
  • Immune Diseases: If you have an immune deficiency, you may be more likely to have recurrent lung infections. Repeat infections can damage your airways and lead to bronchiectasis.
  • Aspiration: If you often breathe in materials such as food, drink, or reflux, your airways can become inflamed and causebronchiectasis. Breathing in these materials is called aspiration. It can be caused by a variety of conditions, including oropharyngeal dysphagia and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Autoimmune Diseases: Rheumatologic, autoimmune, or connective tissue conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus) can cause bronchiectasis.
  • Genetic Diseases: Some genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia, and alpha1 antitrypsin deficiency, can cause recurrent lung infections. Having a lot of lung infections can lead to bronchiectasis.
  • Airway Obstructions: A growth in your airways can block air from moving. This can trap mucus and infections and possibly lead to bronchiectasis. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is probably the most common condition that blocks the airways.

Symptoms of Bronchiectasis

The signs and symptoms of bronchiectasis may include the following:

  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Coughing, which can produce mucus (may be discolored, foul-smelling, and contain blood)
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing

It is important to get treatment for any of these symptoms. If you don’t, they can cause even more shortness of breath, can affect your quality of life, and can cause heart failure. At the Mount Sinai Bronchiectasis Program, we are here to help.