When a person’s airways are repeatedly damaged due to a chronic lung condition, the lungs slowly lose their ability to clear mucus. This leaves the body more susceptible to respiratory infections, resulting in a worsening of symptoms if not treated properly.
Chronic lung conditions like bronchiectasis (brong-kee-EK-tuh-sis) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as COPD, are irreversible and can affect any age group. While the two conditions share similar signs and symptoms, it’s important to understand the differences in order to find the best treatment possible.
How to Diagnose Bronchiectasis
Bronchiectasis affects more than 4.2 million people in the United States, yet the condition remains underdiagnosed, especially among chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. While there are different ways to diagnose bronchiectasis, a high-resolution CT scan is considered the gold standard for diagnosis.
“If you take all patients with COPD―with moderate, severe, and very severe disease―over 50% of those patients, if you do high res CT scans on them, you will find comorbid radiographic bronchiectasis. If you have a COPD patient who tells you, ‘I’m always sick, doc. I’m in the emergency room every few months, I get hospitalized 2-3 times a year for an exacerbation of my COPD.’ You find bronchiectasis in that patient.” -Frederic D. Seifer, MD [Watch Video]
Although bronchiectasis is more commonly seen in adults, the number of children being diagnosed with this same condition is on the rise.
“George has non-CF bronchiectasis. He got his vest after a mucus plug caused his entire left lung to collapse last year. He’s done so well since he started using his SmartVest. It’s a true lifesaver!” -Catherine
As with adults, your child may experience symptoms of bronchiectasis due to genetic factors or other lung conditions that abnormally widen or damage the airways (i.e. Cystic Fibrosis or pneumonia). In addition, there are many underlying health factors that may contribute to early lung damage, such as pulmonary hypoplasia (i.e. when your child’s lungs don’t fully develop in the womb); a low birth weight; or premature birth. All of which may lead your son or daughter to experience impaired breathing conditions.
It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of adult and pediatric bronchiectasis early to help prevent any worsening of symptoms that could affect your quality of life.
Though adult and pediatric bronchiectasis is a permanent condition, early detection is essential to managing the condition and reducing the risk of recurring respiratory infections. For more information on the causes of bronchiectasis, visit our resource page.
Learn about the SmartVest Airway Clearance System and how it can help manage chronic lung conditions. Access clinical studies on how SmartVest works to reduce symptom flare ups and hospital visits, as well as help patients get back to enjoying the activities they love and spending more time with the people they care about most.
“I wasn’t sure I would grow old with my husband. Thank you for helping me have better quality of life.” -Debra, SmartVest user for bronchiectasis
 Weycker D, Hansen G, Seifer F. Prevalence and incidence of noncystic fibrosis bronchiectasis among US adults in 2013. Chronic Respiratory Disease. 2017; 14(4):377-384
 Bronchiectasis New Today. “Pediatric Bronchiectasis Is Preventable and Hardly an Orphan Disease, Review Suggests.” Retrieved from https://bronchiectasisnewstoday.com/2016/02/10/bronchiectasis-in-children-not-an-orphan-disease-review-suggest/
 British Lung Institute. “Bronchiectasis in Children.” Retrieved from https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/bronchiectasis-in-children/causes
 British Lung Institute. “Early Life Risks to Your Child’s Lungs.” Retrieved from https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/risks-to-childrens-lungs/early-life-risks