Bronchiectasis (brong-ke-ek-ta-sis) is a condition in which damage to the airways causes them to widen and become flabby and scarred. The airways, called bronchi, are tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. Bronchiectasis is a known health complication in people with primary and secondary immunodeficiency.

Bronchiectasis is usually the result of an infection or other condition that injures the walls of your airways or prevents the airways from clearing mucus. Having an immunodeficiency can contribute to the development of bronchiectasis because repeated and persistent infections cause inflammation in the airways.

In bronchiectasis, your airways slowly lose their ability to clear out mucus. When mucus can’t be cleared, it builds up and creates an environment in which bacteria can grow. This leads to repeated, serious lung infections.

Each infection causes more damage to your airways. Over time, the airways lose their ability to move air in and out. This can prevent enough oxygen from reaching your vital organs.

Living with bronchiectasis

Living with bronchiectasis can be a challenge but there is a lot you can do to help yourself and manage your condition.

Take a look at our booklet ‘Looking after your lungs’ and this excellent informative booklet on ‘Living with bronchiectasis’ produced by Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on antibiotic prescribing in bronchiectasis

Posted May 2016. Approved by Dr Matthew Buckland, Chair of the Medical Panel. Updated February 2023.