Hello paddlin-maddlin and welcome. I am three years older than you and have lived with bronchiectasis since I was three. We are all different and our condition is also very different to COPD, needing different and specialised management. Something which many GPs and some general respiratory consultants do not appreciate. Your desire to know as much as possible about your condition is the most important first step because this is how you will get control of it and become your own pro active and vociferous advocate in getting the treatment that you need.
I presume that you were diagnosed by ct scan because this is the only way to correctly diagnose bronch.
Do you have a bronchiectasis specialist as opposed to only a general respiratory consultant? If not I suggest that you find the name of one in your area. They are usually at large teaching hospitals. Take the name to your GP and insist on a referral.
A bronch specialist will decide the course and manner of treatment and their team should help you to recognise when an exacerbation is starting up. ‘Flare up’ is a term associated with COPD ‘exacerbation’’ is when the bugs in the lungs of people with bronchiectasis have a party. The result can vary from slightly thicker, slightly darker gunk to masses of thick dark green muck, a fever and complete exhaustion. The consultant should tell your GP to give you a supply of the right antibiotic in a large enough dose for at least two weeks treatment, to keep at home so that you can begin it at the first sight of an exacerbation.Your GP should also send off some sputum to be tested to see which bacteria is in there so that the correct antibiotic is being taken. A word of caution here, tests often come back clear when there is obviously something in there. Labs are not infallible
I am concerned about your Chron’s disease as oral antibiotics can cause problems in the gut anyway without your problem. I suggest that you get your bronch consultant and chron’s consultant to cooperate regarding this. It is possible to nebulise antibiotic on a permanent basis in order to attempt to keep down the bugs in the lungs. I and several others on this site do this. It may mean that by doing this you would be able to avoid having to take oral antibiotics as often.
As far as loosening the mucus and getting it out every day.The mucolitic drugs have their place but I find them useless. Iearning to loosen the mucus yourself through breathing and exercise tecniques gives you more control and is more effective in the long run. I have been doing it this way all of my life and now use an aerosure medic device (a flutter with a motor) to help me if it gets particularly sticky. You will find what suits you best with this. I do nebulise 0.9% saline sometimes. Any more concentrated saline needs to be tested first in a bronch patient as it can cause problems.
I have given you a lot to take in and so I am going to leave it there for now. Good luck with it all. I am sure that you will soon be fully in control.