Bronchiectasis (pronounced bron-kee-ek'-tas-is) is a condition of the airways in the lungs. These airways (bronchial tubes) are tube-like structures that branch from the trachea into the right and left lungs. When a person has bronchiectasis, the airways are permanently and abnormally widened (dilated) and inflamed. These damaged airways can no longer effectively clear mucous and bacteria from the lung, so that exacerbations of cough, sputum production, and shortness of breath can occur.
Bronchiectasis is caused by one or more infectious or inflammatory insults to the lungs. Persons with bronchiectasis are more likely to get lung infections, and each lung infection can make the bronchiectasis worse. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment of bronchiectasis is very important.