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What is it?

Bronchiectasis is a respiratory condition that is characterised by widened or damaged bronchi (tubes) in your lungs. This leads to an increased production of mucous which can be difficult to clear. This build up of mucous can make you more susceptible to chest infections. Recurrent infections may cause a progression of the disease.

Sometimes there is no known cause for bronchiectasis, but it can be linked to previous recurrent infections, prolonged infections, poor immune system or poorly controlled reflux.



  • Mucous production
  • Cough
  • Recurrent or persistent chest infections
  • Shortness of breath
  • Reduced exercise ability
  • Fatigue


Bronchiectasis is diagnosed with a specific type of CT scan. If you have recurrent or persistent chest infections, require multiple of antibiotics for your infections or have excess secretions then contact you GP or discuss with your respiratory consultant.


Bronchiectasis is not curable but if you understand your condition and how to manage it you can reduce the risk of disease progression and learn to live as full and active life as possible. The main treatment is to manage the clearance of secretions to prevent the build-up and further infections and early detection of infection. This can be done by physiotherapy techniques, education and advise, as well as having an action plan when you suspect you have an infection. In some cases, medications may help such as nebulisers, mucolytics or long term antibiotics. Antibiotics are necessary when there is a bacteria present in your lungs and you should know how to check for the presence of bacteria and the right choice of antibiotic.

The physiotherapy treatment techniques can include:

  • Education and advice about the condition
  • Breathing exercises to clear mucous
  • Postural drainage.
  • Adjuncts such as flutter / acapella / PEP
  • Manual therapy
  • Exercise advice
  • Breathless management
  • Exercise regime such as pulmonary rehabilitation

A typical course of therapy is 2 – 3 sessions but will be tailored to you and your needs. The physiotherapist will teach you ways to best manage your condition independently or with the help of your family so that you do not need to see your physiotherapist regularly. We will work on an action plan for you to put in place if you feel you are struggling and give you the support and advice to do this.

If your exercise tolerance has been affected then pulmonary rehabilitation may be beneficial which is an exercise course that runs over a series of weeks to build up your fitness and activity levels.

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