What is Bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis is a lung disease that effects the bronchioles of the lung causing them to produce and retain more sputum and increase your chance of chest infections... But wait.. Huh? What are bronchioles?

In order to understand bronchiectasis I find it best the use the analogy of the lungs being like a tree.

The alveoli (air sacks) of the lungs are like the leaves of a tree. They are where the magic happens, where all the good gasses like oxygen and carbon dioxide transfer into and out of the body (us or the tree) into the atmosphere. The bronchioles, on the other hand, are like the branches of the tree. They are the pipelines and their job is primarily just to carry all the gasses and nutrients out to the leaves.

As mentioned above, bronchiectasis is a disease of these branches of the lungs. Something happens in the lungs to damage these branches. This can be anything from smoke inhalation, cystic fibrosis, recurrent infections or a significant respiratory illness as a child! Now when these bronchioles are damaged they enlarge and with with enlargement the cells lining the walls of the pipes produce more mucus. The key word here being more mucus. Some mucus is good - actually great! Without mucus we would all die very quickly. But it is this excess mucus that really builds up and starts to cause problems.

To find out why this causes problems stay tuned for our next Blog post... What is mucus and why do we have it?

Remember - Physiotherapy is the first line treatment for bronchiectasis and effectively clearing this mucus is the best way to improve bronchiectasis and stop further chest infections!




The Dysfunctional Breathing Cycle

The Cycle of Breathing Dysfunction ­čĺź

Dysfunctional breathing is a condition in which breathing mechanics become stuck in a self perpetuating cycle of breathing imbalance which results in a system not able to adapt to the challenges of daily life.

This is a cycle where...

1) "a trigger" causes changes to breathing mechanics
2) changes to breathing patterns cause symptoms (from unsatisfied breathing to chest pain)
3) these symptoms cause anxiety
4) anxiety causes further changes to breathing mechanics
5) further changes to breathing mechanics cause more symptoms.. and so on.

But how does something like this happen?? As you can see from the diagram there are two places it can start.

1) stress induced.
This is where a psychological insult causes an increased period of anxiety which starts the breathing dysfunction. This can be anything from a prolonged stressful period at work to post a traumatic incident.

2) pathology induced.
This occurs when a illness causes a change in breathing mechanics which can start the dysfunctional breathing cycle. Common examples include a period of uncontrolled asthma, IBS, and post pulmonary embolism.

Once on the cycle it can be extremely difficult to break without specialist treatment. This involves:
A) recognising the cycle
B) treating the trigger (e.g. new asthma puffers or counselling)
C) working with a trained physiotherapist to break it!

#functionallungs #physiocanhelp