Are your patients coming to you with complaints of shortness of breath, chronic cough, or chest pain? Symptoms that look like COPD or asthma may actually be early signs of bronchiectasis, a serious lung disease that irreversibly damages a patient’s airways through recurring inflammation and infection.
To properly diagnose your patients with bronchiectasis, you’ll first need to understand its symptoms, so you can ask the appropriate questions and effectively rule out other pulmonary conditions that may share the same characteristics. From there, you can help your patients find an effective airway clearance therapy solution and find relief.
What Are Common Symptoms of Bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis remains an underdiagnosed pulmonary condition due to its many similarities to other lung diseases, including COPD.
Similarities Between Bronchiectasis and COPD
Because bronchiectasis can mirror COPD, the disease can be overlooked. As a result, patients may be prescribed treatments that don’t effectively clear their airways, leading to a heightened risk of exacerbation.
Questions to Consider While Diagnosing Bronchiectasis
“Ask a Pulmonologist”, an educational, online video series—featuring Dr. Frederic Seifer—provides helpful answers to the questions you may have about diagnosing and treating bronchiectasis. In one particular video, “How is Bronchiectasis Diagnosed,” Dr. Seifer shares an effective approach to learning more about each patient’s condition and the types of questions you should consider first that will allow you to determine whether a high-resolution computerized tomography (HRCT) scan is necessary to accurately diagnose bronchiectasis.
Q: Does Your Patient Currently Have COPD?
Your patient may already be diagnosed with COPD or be experiencing its common symptoms. Patients with COPD that have comorbid bronchiectasis are at a higher risk of mortality than if they were living with non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis alone. Understanding the symptoms of both conditions and recognizing their similarities are essential factors to finding out if your patient is living with an overlap of COPD and bronchiectasis.
Q: Are They Suffering From Frequent Lower Respiratory Infections?
Frequent respiratory infections are warning signs that your patient may be living with bronchiectasis. As your patients’ airways are damaged, their lungs begin to lose their ability to mobilize and clear mucus, allowing bacteria to enter the lungs and cause infection.
Q: Are They Taking Multiple Courses of Antibiotics?
If your patients are taking multiple courses of antibiotics over a span of years, this is another essential indicator that their chronic condition is more than COPD.
Treating Bronchiectasis with Airway Clearance Therapy
After confirming your patient is living with bronchiectasis, following the results of a HRCT scan, the next step is finding the best therapy to help relieve their symptoms and improve their quality of life. The SmartVest Airway Clearance System is the only high frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) therapy device on the market with published outcome data, demonstrating how it helps:
To learn more, read the independent study!