Pediatric bronchiectasis occurs when damaged airways widen and become flabby and scarred.
Bronchiectasis develops over time because of repeated lung infections that damage airways. When this happens, airways become less efficient at moving air in and out. This causes the injured airways, which flatten and become flabby, to not effectively clear out mucus, and the buildup of mucus provides a breeding ground for infections.
Children with bronchiectasis will experience periods of good and bad health. The periods when lung health worsens are called exacerbations. Future lung infections can make the condition worse. It can eventually prevent enough oxygen from reaching vital organs.
There are two types of bronchiectasis — acquired and congenital.
- Acquired bronchiectasis — develops over time and falls into two categories: cystic fibrosis (CF) -bronchiectasis and non-CF bronchiectasis.
- Congenital bronchiectasis — present at birth.
Bronchiectasis that is present at birth can occur because of the way the baby’s lungs developed in utero. More commonly, it develops over time, when medical conditions injure the walls of the airways.
Conditions that can cause bronchiectasis include:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatologic diseases
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Bronchiectasis that affects only one part of the lung is usually caused by a blockage rather than a medical condition.
Symptoms of bronchiectasis include:
- Chest pain
- Clubbing (occurs when the flesh under your fingernails and toenails gets thicker)
- Coughing up blood or mucus mixed with blood
- Coughing up yellow or green mucus daily
- Feeling run-down or tired, especially during exacerbations
- Fevers and/or chills (usual developing during exacerbations)
- Shortness of breath (gets worse during exacerbations)
- Wheezing or a whistling sound while breathing