For many people living with impaired breathing, bronchiectasis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) may seem like similar terms. They each affect an individual’s ability to release air from the lungs and cause frequent coughing, breathlessness, and wheezing. In fact, it is not unusual for a person to experience symptoms of both bronchiectasis and COPD simultaneously. To find the best treatment to help manage your bronchiectasis or COPD symptoms, it is important that you understand the differences between the two lung conditions.
Bronchiectasis (brong-kee-EK-tuh-sis) is an irreversible, chronic condition where the airways in your lungs (bronchi) become damaged and abnormally widened from recurring inflammation or infection.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Bronchiectasis Include:
- Chronic cough that produces mucus
- Recurrent respiratory infections (e.g. tonsillitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, etc.)
- Breathlessness and wheezing
- General fatigue
COPD is similar to bronchiectasis in that it causes frequent pneumonias, inflammation, and permanent damage to your lungs. However, COPD is used as an umbrella term to describe other impaired breathing conditions, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or asthma.
Differences Between Bronchiectasis and COPD
Bronchiectasis is caused by consistent inflammation and/or infection in the lungs whereas most COPD conditions result from smoking, allergies, or pollution.
Bronchiectasis causes airways to slowly lose their ability to clear out mucus, which makes your respiratory system more vulnerable to infection. COPD can cause tightening in the chest and shortness of breath, but certain conditions that fall under the category of COPD do not necessarily create excess mucus.
Bronchiectasis treatment and management involves a combination of antibiotics and airway clearance techniques to clear mucus from the lungs. COPD treatment can include the use of anti-inflammatory medications or inhalers.
There are many diseases and conditions that can hinder your ability to clear your airways and cause permanent lung damage. Understanding the signs and symptoms of bronchiectasis and COPD will allow you to start treatment early, so you live longer and breathe healthier for years. Learn more about the effects and treatment options for managing your bronchiectasis or COPD condition.