Bronchiectasis , COPD help please - British Lung Foun...

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Bronchiectasis , COPD help please


My Dad was diagnosed with Bronchiectasis about 5 years ago

After recently being admitted to hospital for the first time the consultant said he had COPD

In my mind after reading pages and pages

COPD and Bronchiectasis are two different things and my Dad can actually have both they didn't make it very clear to us at the time he was fighting for his life .

I don't have access to doctors etc without my mother being by my side

Am I correct as trying to explain it to my elderly mother is exhausting

can anyone recommend a website or leaflet etc that explains this in simple terms ?

Or am I totally incorrect and as shes says COPD is an umbrella term for Bronchiectasis ?

15 Replies

Hi Pippab

There's people on here who are much more knowledgeable than me so I'm sure you'll get some informative replies.

Like you it seems odd to have the 2 complaints. Even in the medical profession there seems to be confusion where bronchiectasis is concerned as lots of folk on here have reported!

I presume he's had a CT scan which is the test to confirm bronchiectasis?

That should provide some clear answers as an X-ray isn't sufficient.

Also with bronchiectasis as it's not as common as COPD, my experience is you have to push to get answers and right help.

😉 good luck! X

Pippab in reply to winter2013

Thank you winter2013

I'm finding it very difficult to get answers as my elderly mother is always with me when at the hospital . Going to have to leave her behind and ask lots of questions.

Yes that's a good idea x


Hello Pippab

COPD is an umbrella term for chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Bronchiectasis is a separate condition. I have had bronchiectasis all of my life. I'm 67. I have no COPD.There are some people on here who have elements of both. It is very complex because some patients can also have asthma with bronch. Even consultants get confused. I had a locum consultant at my hospital about ten years ago who insisted that I had COPD. When my bronch specialist consultant came back she laughed her socks off.

They need different treatment and management. I strongly suggest that you go to your Dad's GP with the name of a bronchiectasis specialist in your area. They are usually based at big teaching hospitals. Insist on a referral to him or her. General respiratory consultants and most GPs know very little about bronchiectasis. If your Dad has an element of COPD this consultant can deal with that too.

I hope that helps.

Pippab in reply to Hidden

Thank you littlepom

I find it all confusing and then having to explain it again to my elderly mother .

I will follow your advice

Hidden in reply to Pippab

BLF do a good leaflet on bronchiectasis and also one on COPD. Maybe if you get these it will make explaining it to your Mother easier

Hidden in reply to Hidden

bronchiectasis used to be called lower lung sepsis, mainly because the airways are dilated and you often get pools of yucky goo collecting there no one knows for sure why we cannot clear these areas out well only we often go from one exacerbation to another often quite a numerous one after another treatment by antibiotics is the only way, the hospital often use a one a day antibiotic to try and keep things ticking over according to my respiratory specialist COPD in me is an umbrella term used to say the upper airways in me have gone the opposite way and have started closing.

Hidden in reply to Hidden

I remember a registrar saying to me about 8 years ago ' that nasty septic form of bronchiectasis that you have is dying out' How cruel and ignorant. At present more and more people are being diagnosed with bronch after years of being mis diagnosed as asthma or COPD. And still we have to fight to get appropriate treatment.

Hi Pippab,

Welcome. I'm newly diagnosed with bronchiectasis, which my GP originally thought was COPD. Apparently this can happen as COPD is more common and doctors don't always know about bronchiectasis.

I was diagnosed by a CT scan (after the spirometry showed it wasn't COPD after all) and detailed breathing tests.

Wishing you and your parents well.

Rachel :-)


The older I get, and the more I learn, the more confused I get. These are some of the BEST answers I have read concerning Bronch, and I've had it for at least 10 years. Believe it or not, I can't remember. I too was told I had COPD, by a nurse. Another nurse - when I explained I had Bronch, - said in a dismissive voice "Oh, Bronchitis" Grrr. My consultant wrote a VERY terse note to my GP to tell her my real situation. Imagine their horror when I was rushed to hospital with Pseudomonas colonization.

Lindy-loo1949 in reply to Hidden

Well this is news to me! I was told I have bronchiectasis and then they painted it over with COPD! I have had this for years. At least 20 probably more. I absolutely have no idea now what I have LOL. All I know is July 2nd I had what I thought was a cold and it turned out to be the worst infection I've had for a long time. I went through 5 rounds of different antibiotics finally I said to the doctor why don't I just take a sputum culture in and find out what it is! Finally I was put on the right antibiotics ....makes me so mad.

My GP insists I have COPD. I actually have bronchiectasis and bronchiolitis obliterans. I just let him get on with it, but if your consultant is in a muddle perhaps you should ask what his experience is, because not all of them know the difference. Fortunately my consultant is an expert in bronchiectasis, and he just tells the GP what to do anyway.

H i Pippab,

My recent experience with littlepom's reply is they are accurate and can be trusted.My own experience is that I was diagnosed with COPD 15 years ago.Five years ago I was fortunate to be referred to one of the UK's top consultants specialising in respiratory diseases. A scan produced the correct diagnosis- bronchiectasis.It is an unfortunate fact that while bronch has been known about for 200 years it takes a lot of knowledge and the use of fancy kit to produce a correct diagnosis.GP's do a very good job and so do the consultants but as in every other profession not everyone can be expected to know everything.We can only pray that folk are sufficiently enlightened to refer things they are not comfortable with.

Hello Pippab, it is nice to meet you. COPD is a blanket term for several different chest diseases, emphysema, bronchiectasis, asthma, etc. so what your father has is covered by the COPD umbrella, they are not two different diseases, so in this instance your mother is right. Hope this helps xxx

Copd is a umbrella term to cover all chronic (long term) obstructive pulmanery desiese. This can include Asthma, empacimea, bronchiectasis, cancer, fibrosis, and more i cant think of at the moment. Not all asthma comes under the copd umbrella and others may also depend on type and severety of the desiese. The thing is your dad has Bronchiectasis witch is a horrable illnes and alot for you as a family to begin to understand and take onbord. Why dont you give the BLF help line a call you can do this when mum isent about so you can talk easaly make notes so you know what to ask his doctor for more specific answers about your dad.. I hope you get some help to understand it all. I hope dad is home soon

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