In addition to cough, what are the signs and symptoms of bronchiectasis?

Updated: Jul 23, 2019
  • Author: Ethan E Emmons, MD; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Answer

Dyspnea may occur in as many as 72% of patients; a 2006 review reported a rate of 62%. [81] Dyspnea typically occurs in patients with extensive bronchiectasis observed on chest radiographs. Marked dyspnea is more likely to be secondary to a concomitant illness, such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema.

Wheezing is commonly reported and may be due to airflow obstruction following destruction of the bronchial tree. Similar to dyspnea, it may also be secondary to concomitant conditions such as asthma.

Pleuritic chest pain is an intermittent finding, occurring in 19-46% of patients. [81] It is most commonly secondary to chronic coughing but also occurs in the setting of acute exacerbation.

Fatigue is commonly reported (73% of patients). [81] Weight loss often occurs in patients with severe bronchiectasis. This is believed to be secondary to increased caloric requirements associated with the increased work of coughing and clearing secretions. Weight loss suggests advanced disease but is not diagnostic of bronchiectasis.

Fever may occur in the setting of acute infectious exacerbations.

Urinary incontinence occurs more frequently in women with bronchiectasis versus age-matched controls (47% vs 12%). [83] The etiology of this is unclear.


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