Treatment

Bronchiectasis

Although there is no current cure for bronchiectasis, early treatment is important to help improve how you feel, keep the condition well managed, and maintain normal lung function.

Many patients manage their symptoms with an airway clearance routine (a cornerstone of bronchiectasis management) along with exercise, without the need for specific medications except during flare-ups.

Self management

  • Airway clearance program

    Clearing mucus/sputum from the chest every day is very important to decrease the risk of flare-ups. A physiotherapist trained in airway clearance techniques can help you develop a daily clearance routine. This may potentially include breathing exercises, using positive expiratory pressure devices, inhaling saline via a nebuliser, positioning to open the airways and a prescribed exercise program.

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation

    Pulmonary rehab or exercise photoPulmonary rehabilitation is an exercise and education program provided by specially trained health professionals that teaches you the skills needed to manage your symptoms and to stay well and out of hospital.

  • Staying active and healthy

    Pulmonary rehab or exercise photoQuitting smoking, being physically active, eating well, getting plenty of rest, enjoying friends, family and hobbies, practicing relaxation techniques, joining a support group and keeping a positive attitude, are all things you can do to support your health and manage your bronchiectasis.

  • Ensuring your vaccinations are up-to-dat

    This may include discussing a seasonal flu vaccination and the pneumonia vaccine with your doctor, in order to help support your immune system.

  • Accessing emotional support

    Anxiety and depression are not uncommon in bronchiectasis and it is important to access support, if needed. Talk to your doctor or contact Lung Foundation Australia for referral to an appropriate support service.

Treatment options

Medicines

Antibiotics are the most common medicine used to treat infection during flare-ups. These can be taken by mouth, inhaled (nebulised) or given into a vein (intravenously). Nebulised medicines (i.e. nebulised saline (salty water)) may be prescribed to help clear mucus from the airways. Rarely, patients may be prescribed long-term antibiotics to help reduce the number of flare-ups they experience.

Oxygen

Although not common, if your oxygen levels are low, oxygen therapy may be prescribed. Some patients may need continuous oxygen and others may only require oxygen during physical activity (i.e. walking/exercising).