What is bronchiectasis and what causes it?

Find out what bronchiectasis is, how common it is, and how it’s caused.

How to say bronchiectasis


What is bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis is a long-term condition that affects the airways in your lungs. If you have bronchiectasis, your airways are wider and become inflamed with thick phlegm (sputum).

This means your airways may not clear properly. Too much phlegm can cause bacterial infections, which can lead to chest infections.

Chest infections should be treated quickly to stop lung damage.

Bronchiectasis is sometimes called non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis. This is because bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis have similar symptoms. However, the treatment and outlook are different for both conditions.

How common is bronchiectasis?

Around 1 in 200 adults in the UK have bronchiectasis. It’s more common in women than in men. Around 60% of people diagnosed with bronchiectasis are over 70 years old. 

What causes bronchiectasis?

It’s not completely clear what causes bronchiectasis. For up to 50% of people diagnosed, there’s no clear cause. However, known causes of bronchiectasis are:  

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