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asthma and bronchiectasis

I hope someone could help explain to me

A the differences between how bronchiectasis and asthma effect the lungs?

B how asthma can coexist along with another lung conditions? and finally

C, is this why my sister in law has worsting asthma attacks?

. have looked around about the how asthma and bronchiectasis coexist but have drawn a blank.

thanks again Dave

8 Replies

Hi DAve

I also have asthma and 'mild'bronchiectasis. I think it is not uncommon to develop asthma when you already have a lung condition. I also have perennial rhinitis and lots of allergies. Since I started taking Spiriva, the bronchiectasis seems to have calmed down. Although I often have green gunk, it's not too much of a nuisance. I think there is a forum for bronchiectasis - Speedy will be able to tell you more.



Hi Katybarstool.

You said you had Bronciecstasis. What actually is it? Thanks in advance.


Hi Josie

Hope this helps

What Is Bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis (bron-kee-ek'-tas-is) is a lung disease that usually results from an infection or other condition that injures the walls of the airways in your lungs. The airways are the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs.

This injury is the beginning of a cycle in which your airways slowly lose their ability to clear out mucus. The mucus builds up and creates an environment in which bacteria can grow. This leads to repeated serious lung infections. Each infection causes more damage to your airways.

Over time, your airways become stretched out, flabby, and scarred. They can no longer move air in and out.

This can affect how much oxygen reaches your body organs. If your lungs cannot move enough oxygen into your body, bronchiectasis can lead to serious illness, including heart failure.

Bronchiectasis can affect just one section of one of your lungs or many sections of both lungs.

Bronchiectasis usually begins in childhood, but symptoms may not appear until months or even years after you have started having repeated lung infections.

There are two types of bronchiectasis:

Congenital bronchiectasis usually affects infants and children. It results from a problem in the development of the lungs in the fetus.

Acquired bronchiectasis occurs in adults and older children. It is more common.

Bronchiectasis cannot be cured, but with proper care, most people who have it can enjoy a good quality of life.


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Hi Coffeenut,

Kathy has provided a really good explanation of what bronchiectasis is and how it affects the lungs. It's a vastly heterogeneous condition - some people are extremely mildly affected, with scarely any symptoms at all, whereas others are pretty severely affected.

Symptoms of bronchiectasis vary vastly from person to person, but typically include a degree of breathlessness, together with a chronic productive cough. There may be frequent chest infections where the sputum that is coughed up becomes purulent (mucky and green/brown in colour). Symptoms of asthma are also vastly variable but tend to include wheeze (not always though!), tight-chestedness, breathlessness and sometimes a cough productive of sputum. In the absence of infection, the sputum of an asthmatic tends to be yellow or clear in colour (in other words, not purulent) and can be thin and watery or thick plugs. It can be difficult for patient and doctor alike to unpick what symptoms are due to bronchiectasis and what are due to asthma. The treatments are slightly different - bronchiectasis is treated with bronchodilators, in a similar way to asthma, but there will also be more emphasis on antibiotics, oral or sometimes nebulised, either given to treat an infection or taken all the time prophylactically to prevent infections from taking hold.

Bronchiectasis and asthma do sometimes coexist but the relationship between them is not clear. There isn't known to be any particular link between the two, but they are both relatively common lung conditions so they are bound to coexist by coincidence in some people. Some asthmatics do get recurrent chest infections which may eventually lead to the development of some bronchiectasis; however, most bronchiectasis is initiated by a severe infection such as a pneumonia rather than a simple chest infection. Some asthmatics suffer from immune system deficiencies which may also predispose to bronchiectasis - again, it's not known whether this is linked to the asthma or whether it is coincidence.

It's impossible to say why your sister-in-law is having worsening asthma attacks, and if she hasn't done so, she should go to her doctor for a review of her asthma treatment. Sometimes asthma does go through bad phases for no apparent reason and treatment needs to be increased. Certainly, though, if she is getting recurrent infections due to bronchiectasis, that may be provoking her asthma. Again, her doctor needs to assess this and decide whether there are any other treatments that can be given in order to try to prevent the infections.

Hope this helps a little.

Take care

Em H

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a good site to look at for information and there is also a chat forum is Bronchiectasis R us. The address is

I have both brittle asthma and bronchiestasis, which developed after having pneumonia. I find that my asthma plays up when i have a bad infection, and it seems to take longer to recover from a bad attack then it used to.

Best wishes


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thanks found the bump

thank you Sea horse


I have been diagnosed with bronchiectasis, but I rarely cough. I understood that this was a disease where coughing, and lots of mucus, is one of the main symptoms, but I very rarely cough anything up. Even during a recent hospital admission, with the help of the physio, with exercises and 'patting' we couldn't get anything up at all.


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