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Bronchiectasis Image. Courtesy

Bronchiectasis Image. Courtesy

What Is Bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis is a pulmonary disorder characterized by chronic dilation of bronchi (main airways) and bronchioles (small airways) with chronic inflammation and swelling, increasing the risk of infection.

In bronchiectasis, mucus produced to trap foreign substances, such as dust and bacteria, builds-up because the ability of airways to move it out is impaired. Normally, hair-like cilia that line airways beat mucus out of the lungs. Loss of this action increases mucus in the airways which increases risk of pneumonia.

The anatomy of airways is likened to a branching tree. The trachea, or windpipe, like the trunk of a tree, branches into two primary bronchi that connect it to the lungs. One bronchus connects to the left lung and the other to the right lung. Each bronchus further divides into smaller bronchi that connect to the lobes. Lobes are large subdivisions of lung tissue: two of the left lung and three of the right lung.

Lobe bronchi divide into smaller bronchial tubes ending in small bronchioles. The ends of bronchioles are surrounded with and attached to tiny alveoli which are air sacs that look like clusters of grapes.

Q: What effect does inflammation have on the lungs?

A: Alveoli are only one cell thick, where oxygen is obtained by the bloodsteam from air breathed into them and carbon dioxide is released from the bloodstream to air that is breathed out of air sacs through the pulmonary tree. Two things happen:

  1. Inflammation  impairs exchange of gases in alveoli, resulting in lack of sufficient oxygen (O2) for body cell functions, called hypoxia, and build-up of carbon dioxide (CO2) in blood, called CO2 retention.
  2. Inflammation narrows passageways, which reduces the movement of air to and from the alveoli, and this puts stress on the right side of the heart.

Bronchiectasis can affect one or both lungs or one segment or multiple segments of a lung. Treatment is with antibiotics, chest physiotherapy and good nutrition.

What Is Bronchiectasis In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?


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