Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Expert Forum
non-smoker, newbie with bronchiectasis
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non-smoker, newbie with bronchiectasis

I just got diagnosed with bronchiectasis.  What does this mean for me?  I am a non-smoker, I am 55 year-old female.  I have no history of anything with regard to chemicals, or inhaling an object, or AIDS, or cystic fibrosis.  My chest pain began when I was 15 years old.

I do have aortic valve insufficiency (mild, no big deal).  I have hypothyroidism, and food allergies (MAJOR, and extensive).  I have had a colon resection due to diverticulitis when I was 40.  I do have a history over the years of pneumonia off and on, and a cough/cold deal that I go through every single winter.  This did begin when I was 15 with chest pain, and the pains have increased over the years.  In April, there was one incident that was so bad I thought it was a heart attack.

I'm supposed to go back to the primary care physician now, and she's supposed to talk to me about where I go next.  What does that mean?  What should I ask?  I am a bit in shock, a bit optimistic, a bit fearful, and mostly just not sure what I am supposed to do between now and then to prepare for the next visit.
242587_tn?1355427710
You state the following:  “.  I do have a history over the years of pneumonia off and on, and a cough/cold deal that I go through every single winter.  This did begin when I was 15 with chest pain, and the pains have increased over the years.  In April, there was one incident that was so bad I thought it was a heart attack. “
That statement suggests to me that whatever the cause of your bronchiectasis, it may have begun a long time ago.”  For me, that raises the possibility that your underlying lung disease, despite your disclaimer, might well be cystic fibrosis (just previously undiagnosed).

Something that might be of interest to you and your doctor is the observed relationship between a class of bacteria related to tuberculosis, (referred to as Non-tuberculous Mycobacteria or Atypical Mycobacteria).  These bacteria commonly take hold in lungs, with pre-existing bronchiectasis but it has also been suggested that the bacteria may actually contribute to the development of bronchiectasis.

The import of the diagnosis of bronchiectasis depends on the extent of it (localized to one portion of lung as opposed to being present in many locations in both lungs) and the treatability of it (medically or surgically treatable).

I suggest that you and your doctor request consultation with a lung specialist (Pulmonologist), as both diagnosis and treatment can be complex.

Do not interpret this diagnosis as having a grim outlook.  This is a treatable disease.

Good luck
2 Comments
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Hi Dr Tinkelman,

I was also just diagnosed with trace upper lobe bronchiectasis (mild). I am very worried and my specialist appointment is not for another month. The doctor said that "you have a bit of scarring on the upper lobe bronchi" and that "it is unusual to get bronchiectatsis in upper lobes".

I don't know if I had pneumonia as a child but I did used to get sick a lot.
I am a 29 year old Male. I have been smoking for 10 years but I quit 2 weeks ago and my cough has almost disappeared. I have always been prone to throat infections. What could the cause of this be? What medications will I be given?

Please Advise,

Thank You
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David Tinkelman, M.D.Blank
National Jewish Health
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