Physiotherapy for bronchiectasis
Physiotherapy is an important part of managing bronchiectasis. You may be taught how to perform airway clearance techniques (ACT), which may include postural drainage (PD) exercises – these involve lying on alternate sides and performing breathing exercises which help drain phlegm. You will be advised to carry out the exercises once or twice a day for at least 20 minutes per session. Regular airway clearance means you cough up mucus which might otherwise collect in the lungs. This prevents infection. It also means you are less likely to cough up mucus at other times of the day.
Exercise of any sort also helps the lungs clear mucus and improves general fitness.
Treatment with medication may help. There are several types of drugs which can be used to ease the symptoms of bronchiectasis. Bronchodilators expand your airways, making it easier to breathe and reducing any shortness of breath or chest pain. They can also help improve the normal ways the body clears mucus. Nasal sprays or drops can help with a runny nose and sinus pain. Antibiotics are sometimes given to fight lung infections and reduce inflammation in the lungs.
Surgery can be helpful in some cases. Unfortunately, bronchiectasis often affects many different areas of the lungs, making surgery inappropriate.
How you can help yourself
If you smoke, stop. There is lots of support to help you kick the habit – your GP can advise you further. Remember also to avoid passive smoke and other air pollutants such as dusts or traffic fumes.
Get a flu vaccine every year and a pneumococcal vaccine every 7 to 10 years as recommended by your doctor.
Exercise regularly and perform the exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist.
Eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids.
Following your treatment plan can reduce the effect of your bronchiectasis and may improve your quality of life.