Antibiotics are used if infection is the main cause of your bronchiectasis. Bronchodilators: relax your airway muscles.
Corticosteroids may be given if you have bronchiectasis that is caused by swelling in your airway. Corticosteroids work slowly to reduce the swelling in your airways.
Mucus thinners: thin your mucus to make it easier to cough it up.
Expectorants: help bring up the mucus.
Chest physical therapy (CPT, percussion, postural drainage) for bronchiectasis
Chest physical therapy is a way of loosening the mucus in your chest. People usually do chest physical therapy while sitting or lying with their heads down (postural drainage). The therapy helps loosen the mucus, and lying with your head down helps the mucus drain away from your lungs.
After you’ve loosened the mucus, it’s easier to cough it up. People with bronchiectasis often do CPT and cough up mucus three or four times a day. There are different ways of doing chest physical therapy:
- some people use their fist to pound on their chest
- other people use a device, for example: an electric chest clapper, an inflated vest, a “flutter” machine or a positive expiratory pressure mask
There are also breathing exercises that help loosen mucus.
For more information on bronchiectasis treatment and breathing exercises, please see this page from the U.S. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
Staying healthy when you have bronchiectasis
People with bronchiectasis can get flare-ups, times when their symptoms are worse. If you have bronchiectasis, stay as healthy as possible by:
- not smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke
- eating a balanced diet
- getting the flu shot every year
- getting the pneumococcal pneumonia shot every few years (ask your doctor)
- making sure you’ve gotten shots against measles, rubella and pertussis
- fighting germs by washing your hands properly
- getting help right away if you are having a flare-up