Understanding the Types of Bronchiectasis

If you or a loved one is living with bronchiectasis, then you may already know that its causes and symptoms vary between individuals. Although it’s common to share similar traits of this chronic lung condition, such as shortness of breath, chronic cough, or respiratory infections, the reality is that bronchiectasis affects patients differently because it develops from other lung diseases that are either inherited or acquired.

Types of Bronchiectasis, Treating Bronchiectasis

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. As your airways become repeatedly damaged, your lungs slowly lose their ability to mobilize and clear mucus. According to the CHEST Foundation,1 there are two types of bronchiectasis: cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis (CFB) and non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis (NCFB).

 

Cystic Fibrosis Bronchiectasis (CFB):

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the patient’s lungs, resulting in repeated pulmonary infections. Like bronchiectasis, each cycle of inflammation and infection further damages the bronchi, causing patients to exhibit signs of bronchiectasis. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, there are more than 30,000 people living with CF in the United States today.2

Non-Cystic Fibrosis Bronchiectasis (NCFB):

Patients can also develop bronchiectasis outside of CF. For instance, if a patient is living with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); has damaged cilia (tiny hair-like structures inside the bronchial tube that help clear mucus in the lungs); experiences asthma; or has impaired muscular and nervous system functions that prevent them from clearing mucus naturally, they may develop bronchiectasis-related symptoms.

Other research suggests that there are different subtypes of NCFB, including cylindrical, varicose, and cystic.3 According to an article published in the Interactive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery, these varying subtypes are categorized by the level and appearance of airway dilation, when analyzed through high-res computed tomography (HRCT) scanning.4

Because bronchiectasis affects everyone individually, it’s essential that patients find the most effective treatment to help prevent its worsening symptoms and growing mortality rate.

 

Treating the Different Types of Bronchiectasis

Clearing the lungs of excess mucus via the SmartVest Airway Clearance System is one of the best defenses against bronchiectasis and other impaired breathing conditions that cause recurring respiratory infections. By delivering rapidly repeating pulses of air that squeeze and release the upper body, SmartVest produces gentle, yet powerful “mini coughs” to help loosen, thin, and propel mucus towards major airways in the lungs, where it can be more readily coughed out.

The results of an independent outcome-based study demonstrate how SmartVest helped patients experience a reduction in bronchiectasis-related exacerbations after long-term use (2.5 years). In addition, the findings revealed that patients also experienced a 42% decrease in hospitalizations, a 38% reduction in antibiotic therapy, and a 75% decrease in hospital visits due to severe exacerbations when compared to prior treatment.5

 

Learn More About SmartVest

To learn more about the effectiveness of airway clearance via SmartVest, take a look at our patient resources page, where you’ll have access to a community of organizations that work to support individuals who are also living with a chronic lung condition. For questions about how SmartVest works, contact Electromed today!  

 


  1. Learn about bronchiectasis. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://foundation.chestnet.org/patient-education-resources/bronchiectasis/
  2. Learn about bronchiectasis. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://foundation.chestnet.org/patient-education-resources/bronchiectasis/
  3. Neves, P., Guerra, M., Ponce, P., Miranda, J., Vouga, L. (2013). Non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis. Interactive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery, 13(6), 619-625. https://doi.org/10.1510/icvts.2011.284208
  4. Neves, P., Guerra, M., Ponce, P., Miranda, J., Vouga, L. (2013). Non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis. Interactive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery, 13(6), 619-625. https://doi.org/10.1510/icvts.2011.284208
  5. Sievert, CE et al. 2018. Incidence of Bronchiectasis-Related Exacerbation Rates After High Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation (HFCWO) Treatment – A Longitudinal Outcome-Based Study. Respiratory Therapy, 13(2), 38-41.
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