Living with bronchiectasis can cause a loved one to produce a chronic cough, experience shortness of breath, and develop frequent respiratory infections that could damage the lungs. Another common symptom of bronchiectasis is chronic inflammation, which can make breathing more difficult and further impair lung function.
Understanding the Chronic Cycle of Inflammation
Because bronchiectasis disrupts a loved one’s ability to mobilize and clear mucus naturally, mucus builds up frequently, which attracts (and traps) bacteria in the lungs, creating irritation and chronic infection that causes inflammation. And without effective treatment, this cycle will continue to repeat itself, causing irreversible damage to this vital organ.
Why Does Bronchiectasis Cause Inflammation?
Bronchiectasis is an irreversible lung condition that causes your airways (bronchi) to abnormally widen: “As more walls become scarred, the bronchi are no longer able to effectively drain normal secretions, so mucus builds up and becomes a breeding ground for germs.”
When our bodies are exposed to such germs and irritants, its natural response is to fight off these intruders with inflammation. Though a defense mechanism, inflammation can cause you to experience a tightening sensation in the chest area, which can lead to wheezing or shortness of breath. And when respiratory inflammation lasts for longer periods of time (chronic inflammation), it can damage the lungs: “In normal lungs, the air sacs stretch and relax with each breath. Chronic inflammation of the thin tissue lining each air sac causes scarring and makes the sacs less flexible.
Referring back to the chart above, when individuals are living with bronchiectasis, they may experience a recurring cycle of inflammation caused by infection that will permanently damage the lungs, cause airway obstruction, and make breathing more difficult.
What Are Other Symptoms of Bronchiectasis?
Repeated inflammation and infection are common signs of bronchiectasis, but they can also trigger other bronchiectasis-related symptoms, including wheezing and fatigue.
Why Does Bronchiectasis Cause Wheezing?
When airways become inflamed due to allergies or a chronic lung condition like bronchiectasis or COPD, your bronchi begin to narrow, making it difficult to release oxygen into your lungs. The result is often wheezing: “Wheezing happens when the airways are tightened, blocked, or inflamed, making a person’s breathing sound like whistling or squeaking.”
Why Does Bronchiectasis Cause Fatigue?
As with COPD, bronchiectasis causes airway obstruction, which makes it harder for oxygen to enter your lungs, causing you to experience tiredness or fatigue. Let’s not forget that the energy our bodies use for labored breathing (from wheezing or shortness of breath) is another cause of bronchiectasis-related fatigue.
Find Symptom Relief from Your Chronic Lung Condition
If you’re dealing with a continuous cycle of inflammation and infection that’s causing you to experience wheezing, shortness of breath, or fatigue, it might be time to talk to your doctor about the SmartVest Airway Clearance System. SmartVest is a high frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) therapy device that works by delivering repeating pulses of air that gently squeeze and release the upper body. The oscillation helps loosen mucus and propel it upwards, preventing the spread of germs from filling your lungs and causing infection.
When used consistently, SmartVest can help you or your loved one manage chronic symptoms and find relief, so you can feel better and get back to doing the things you love.
 CHEST Foundation. “Bronchiectasis.” Retrieved from https://foundation.chestnet.org/lung-health-a-z/bronchiectasis/#:~:text=The%20chronic%20cycle%20of%20Bronchiectasis,more%20lung%20infections%20and%20inflammation.
 American Lung Association. “Learn about Bronchiectasis.” Retrieved from https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/bronchiectasis/learn-about-bronchiectasis
 Medical News Today. “Everything You Need to Know About Inflammation.” Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423
 Medical News Today. “What Does it Mean When Your Left Lung Hurts.” Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321183
 The Mayo Clinic. “Pneumonitis: Symptoms & Causes.” Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pneumonitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352623
 Medical News Today. “Ten Home Remedies for Wheezing.” Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321736