With applications for this year’s series of Love Island opening recently, it won’t be long before the marmite reality TV show is on our screens once again. Love it or hate it, it certainly pulls in the ratings for ITV!

But we’re particularly grateful to one former contestant, Priya Gopaldas, who is using her appearance on the show last year to raise awareness of a condition that we treat right here at Air Physiotherapy: bronchiectasis.

Priya’s bronchiectasis journey

At the age of just 14 Priya developed issues following a fortnight long hospitalisation with pneumonia. The severe infection she suffered caused irreparable lung damage, but despite visiting the doctor on several occasions over the following 18 months, Priya struggled to get the right diagnosis. Treatments for suspected asthma and the use of inhalers had little or no effect, and the chronic cough just didn’t get any better. She would lurch from one chest infection straight into another with very little respite.

It was only when she saw a respiratory specialist who booked a CT scan that they discovered her bronchiectasis.

What is bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis is a long-term condition where that affects the airways of the lungs. This leads to a build-up of excess mucus that can make the lungs more vulnerable to infection. Its most common symptoms are:

  • a persistent cough where large amounts of sputum (phlegm) is brought up
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • wheezing
  • chest or joint pain
  • frequent chest infections

The severity of symptoms can vary widely. Some people have only a few symptoms that do not appear often, while others have wide-ranging daily symptoms. For many patients with bronchiectasis, symptoms tend to get worse if you develop an infection in your lungs.

Why does bronchiectasis happen?

When you have bronchiectasis one or more of the bronchi are abnormally widened. The bronchi are lots of tiny airways that make up your lungs – if you imagine a tree with larger branches which then divide into a network of smaller branches & twigs. The bronchi divide into lots of bronchioles within which are glands that hold mucus which keep the airways moist and trap dust & dirt particles as you breathe. Tiny hairs called cilia line the airways and move the mucus along to expel it.
When the bronchi become abnormally widened the airways are much less effective at clearing away the mucus. This causes it to build up​ which increases the risk of bacteria infecting the airways and can lead to a chest infection. Left untreated, you risk entering into a cycle of chest infections which increases the scarring and damage to the bronchi and leads to further infections.

Our respiratory physiotherapy can help

It is very important to ensure your lungs are kept clear and infection free, especially if

  • you have a condition which means you are susceptible to chest infections
  • are prone to producing lots of mucus
  • if you have recently been unwell with pneumonia.

Coughing alone is not enough to move secretions from the smaller airways but respiratory physiotherapy can help achieve this using a variety of different methods.

Book an appointment with us online now – or email enquiries@airphysiotherapy.co.uk if you’d like to know more.

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