Prevalence of Bronchiectasis 2018-06-29T13:31:20+00:00

Prevalence of COPD and Non-CF Bronchiectasis in the US

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiectasis are diseases of the lungs affecting a person’s ability to breathe and leading to decreased quality of life.

Collectively characterized by airflow blockage, bronchial dilation, inflammation and scarring, these diseases often co-exist but require different treatments for successful management of symptoms.

For the right treatment to be prescribed and carried out, lung problems must be properly diagnosed. Overlapping symptoms may make it difficult to discern which condition a patient is dealing with or if both conditions are present. Because of this, practitioners must be aware of the distinct symptoms associated with each disease and how to use appropriate medications and procedures to address the constellation of possible complications.

Chronic Lung Disease Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COPD was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2014. As of the same year, the average death rate from chronic obstructive lung diseases was 44.3 per 100,000 people. Around 15.7 million people have been diagnosed with some form of the disease, amounting to 6.4 percent of the population. Among known cases, about 15 percent are attributed to occupational exposure to vapors, chemicals, dust and other substances. Those working in the agricultural, food and mining industries have a higher risk of developing a lung disease. Working in fishing, construction or forestry appears to pose less of a risk.

Bronchial damage is harder to pinpoint, and recent studies are showing it may be more common than was previously suspected. Prevalence was once thought to be around 52 cases per 100,000 people, but a 2013 study suggested the actual number may be closer to 139 per 100,000. In 52 percent of the cases observed, study participants also presented with chronic obstructive pulmonary problems.

If the study’s conclusions are correct, severe bronchial inflammation may affect between 340,000 to 522,000 people in the U.S. Around 70,000 patients are diagnosed with the condition every year, making it more important than ever for medical professionals to recognize the symptoms.

Learn more about Bronchiectasis

Find out more about the signs and symptoms with the AffloVest Bronchiectasis Resource Kit

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Know the Symptoms and Causes

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease describes a group of conditions affecting the lungs, causing problems with airflow and making it difficult for sufferers to breathe normally. Bronchiectasis involves damage to the bronchi, the main passages moving air into and out of the lungs. Bronchi get smaller as they branch out into the lungs, and the inflammation associated with this condition can cause complications in the narrow passageways.

Both of these lung disorders may manifest with symptoms like shortness of breath, chronic coughing, daily expectoration of mucus and airflow obstruction, and many patients may suffer from both conditions at once. However, while the cough in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is usually wet, bronchial inflammation and damage may cause either a wet or a dry cough.

Different triggers are associated with each disease. Smoking is the most common cause behind chronic pulmonary diseases. These may also be caused by exposure to air pollution, genetic predisposition or certain respiratory infections. Bronchial inflammation and damage is associated with serious lung infections during childhood, whooping cough, measles, compromised immunity, severe fungal or mold allergies, airway blockage, gastric reflux and genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis.

Despite these differences, overlapping symptoms can make it difficult for physicians to pinpoint and assign an accurate diagnosis. Current statistics reflect conditions assumed to be properly identified.

Bronchial inflammation symptoms include:

  • Chest pain

  • Fever and/or chills

  • Thickened bronchial walls

  • Tiredness

  • Unusual airway shape

  • Yellow or green mucus

When COPD is present, symptoms may include:

  • Blue or gray tinge to fingernails and lips

  • Chest tightness

  • Swelling in the legs and feet

  • Tiring easily after activity

Under-Diagnosis Hinders Treatment

Bronchiectasis is increasing in prevalence, requiring a greater awareness of the disease.  Bronchiectasis most often arises from several different causes.   The most common symptom that is associated with a diagnosis is a persistent cough, which is a common presentation in various respiratory diseases and illnesses. The commonality of this symptom is one of the primary reason it often goes undiagnosed.

Currently healthcare providers are not trained to make bronchiectasis part of their differential diagnosis work-up when assessing patients with COPD.  According to a recent study commissioned, under-diagnosis may be due largely to its grouping under chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).The clinical features of the COPDs frequently overlap. If physicians keep detailed notes on patients’ conditions, it may be possible to reduce misdiagnosis and under-diagnosis, allowing those suffering from bronchiectasis to get the treatment they need.

Most prevalent characteristics of COPD:

  • Chest crackling

  • Low pulmonary function tests

  • Obvious trigger in the patient’s past

  • Presence of specific microbial pathogens in sputum

  • Wheezing

Learn more about Bronchiectasis

Find out more about the signs and symptoms with the AffloVest Bronchiectasis Resource Kit

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Treatment for Bronchiectasis and COPD

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis or both must work closely with their doctors to monitor and manage symptoms and prevent future complications. Because both diseases tend to get worse over time, treatment plans may need to be modified as patients age. Combining a traditional medical approach with self-care and lifestyle modifications can help patients control the worst symptoms and enjoy better quality of life.

Treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease involves lessening symptoms and reducing sputum production. Patients are counseled to quit smoking, clean up the air in their homes and avoid chemical exposure. Medical options include medication, pulmonary rehabilitation and supplemental oxygen.

Complementary lifestyle modifications, such as drinking more water and performing regular exercise, can help keep the lungs clear. Compression vests may also be used to ease the movement of secretions out of the lungs.

Treatment options include:

  • Antibiotics

  • Anti-inflammatory medications

  • Bronchodilators

  • Expectorants

  • Vaccinations for respiratory infections

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