What is bronchiectasis? Bronchiectasis is a respiratory disease that affects the elastic properties of the bronchial tubes, the main airways of the lungs. Bronchiectasis results in severe congestion, chronic cough, a decreased ability to effectively expel sputum (mucus from the lower airways), and shortness of breath. Bronchiectasis is a relatively uncommon respiratory disorder in the United States. Approximately 110,000 people in the United States have bronchiectasis. Bronchiectasis is more common in women than men. However, in children, bronchiectasis is more common in boys than girls (Source: NHLBI). Cystic fibrosis is the most common cause of bronchiectasis, and it accounts for half of all cases. Immune disorders, such as human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), can also play a role in the development of bronchiectasis. Less common genetic causes of bronchiectasis are ciliary dyskinesia (rare condition affecting the tiny structures that move mucus out of the airways) and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (exaggerated immune response to the fungus Aspergillus). Symptoms of bronchiectasis often take months or years to develop and worsen over time. Treatments for bronchiectasis include antibiotics, bronchodilators, expectorants, and chest physical therapy. Healthy lifestyle practices can reduce the risk of bronchiectasis or improve symptoms, including good hand washing, drinking plenty of fluids, eating a well-balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and refraining from smoking. Bronchiectasis symptoms can be associated with a serious or life-threatening condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for severe difficulty breathing, which may be accompanied by pale or blue lips, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), sweating, and anxiety. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for bronchiectasis but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.