What can be done to manage symptoms?

Quick Fact

Bronchiectasis is more common in women than in men.
Source: American Lung Association

Because bronchiectasis is a chronic condition that often develops over time, patients can do a lot on their own and with their healthcare providers to slow disease progression and preserve lung function. Preventing and quickly treating respiratory infections is important. Several of the mucus-clearing treatments (also known as airway clearance or pulmonary hygiene) described above, when used daily, can help minimize the recurrence of infections and reduce their effects when it does occur.

Regular lung function and laboratory tests can monitor and support the management of symptoms by determining the extent and nature of a flare-up. Pulse oximetry is used to measure the oxygen level (oxygen saturation) of the blood. This easy, painless test measures how well oxygen is being sent to body parts farthest from your heart, such as the arms and legs. It can be an indicator of how well the lungs are functioning over time.

Regular exercise and hydration (drinking adequate water) strengthen overall health as well as promote clearance of the airways. A nutritionist can help patients maintain a healthy weight and identify foods less likely to contribute to thickened or increased mucus production.

Management of GERD is important to protect the airways and includes working with a dietician and avoiding reclining or sleeping within several hours of eating. It is advisable for people with GERD or reflux not to eat or drink for several hours prior to bedtime. Diagnosis and treatment of swallowing disorders that may cause pulmonary aspiration are also useful.

Flu shots are recommended unless medically contraindicated as advised by a medical professional. Contracting the flu and its associated infections may worsen bronchiectasis.