Symptoms of bronchiectasis

The most common symptom of bronchiectasis is a persistent cough that brings up a large amount of phlegm on a daily basis.

The phlegmcan be clear, pale yellow or yellow-greenish in colour. Other peoplemay only occasionallycough up small amounts of phlegm, or none at all.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • coughing up blood or blood-stained phlegm
  • chest pain
  • joint pain
  • clubbing of the fingertips the tissue beneath the nail thickens and the fingertips become rounded and bulbous

Signs of a lung infection

If youdevelop a lung infection, your symptoms usually get worsewithin a few days. This is known as an infective exacerbation and it can cause:

  • coughing up even morephlegm, which may bemore green than usualor smell unpleasant
  • worsening shortness of breath

You may also:

  • feel very tired
  • cough up blood, if you haven't already done so
  • experience a sharp chest pain that's made worse when breathing ( pleurisy )
  • feel generally unwell

When to seek medical advice

If you haven't previously beendiagnosed with bronchiectasis and you develop a persistent cough, visit your GP for advice.

While persistent coughing may not necessarily be the result of bronchiectasis, it requires further investigation.

If you've been previously diagnosed with bronchiectasis and you begin to experience symptoms that suggest you have a lung infection, contact your GP. You'll usually need treatment with antibiotics .

Some people with bronchiectasis are given a stock of antibiotics as a precaution, in case they suddenly develop a lung infection.

When to seek immediate medical advice

Some people with bronchiectasis develop a severe lung infection that may need to be treated in hospital.

Signs and symptoms of serious lung infection include:

  • a bluish tinge to theskin and lips ( cyanosis )
  • confusion
  • a high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • rapid breathing (more than 25 breathsa minute)
  • severe chest pain that makes it too painful to cough and clear your lungs

If you experience any of the above, phone the healthcare professional in charge of your care immediately. This may be your GP, a doctor who specialises in lung conditions (pulmonologist) or a specialist nurse.

If this isn't possible, then phone NHS 111 or your local out-of-hours service .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 30 Nov 2016