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Taking a deep breath is supposed to be calming. But when your lungs feel clogged with mucus — and you cough all the time — it can be hard to relax.

No matter how much you cough, it seems like whatever gunk that’s in your lungs won’t clear out. If you have bronchiectasis, stubborn mucus is building up in there and not getting cleared. This can damage your airways (tubes in your lungs) and affect your breathing.

At Cleveland Clinic, we know how scary that can be. And we’re here to help. Our skilled and compassionate healthcare providers know what it takes to clear your airways and manage your bronchiectasis so you can breathe easier.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Bronchiectasis Care?

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Personalized care:

We know that bronchiectasis can affect every part of your life. Our specialists get to know you and create a treatment plan that’s right for your unique needs. We do everything we can to make it possible for you to live each day to the fullest. Meet our team.

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Comprehensive treatment:

Cleveland Clinic providers are here to help stop your bronchiectasis in its tracks. We help you manage the symptoms you face each day and minimize flare-ups. We want you to stay healthy and feel your best.

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National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.

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Virtual visits:

Life can get busy. Or maybe you aren’t feeling up to leaving the house. Cleveland Clinic’s virtual visits let you meet one-on-one with some providers for some appointments — from the comfort of home. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Bronchiectasis Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic

Undertreating bronchiectasis can lead to permanent damage of your airways (bronchi and bronchioles) by making them stretch, widen and develop pouches. Mucus builds up in these, causing you to cough a lot and even get infections. You might only have damage in one lung or part of a lung (focal bronchiectasis) or throughout your lungs (diffuse bronchiectasis).

Besides struggling to breathe and coughing a lot, you might also have wheezing, chest pain, low appetite and weight loss. You could even start coughing up bloody mucus. Sometimes you might not have any symptoms at all. Other times, you might feel sick and have a fever, chills and be extra tired.

At your first visit, we’ll start by giving you a physical exam. We’ll listen to your lungs through a stethoscope as you breathe. And we’ll go over your symptoms and medical history before doing a few tests to see what kind of changes are happening in your airways.

Blood and sputum tests

We’ll take a sample of your blood or the mucus you cough up (sputum). We look for antibodies and may do a bacteria culture test to see if you have an infection in your airways. We might also do genetic testing to see if you’ve inherited a problem that can cause bronchiectasis.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests create detailed pictures and views that help our experts find out what’s happening inside your lungs. You may have a:

Lung function tests

Our specialists do pulmonary function testing to learn more about how your lungs work. We use these tests to see if you have any blockages or other conditions that are keeping you from breathing as you should.

Meet Our Bronchiectasis Team

When you come to Cleveland Clinic for bronchiectasis diagnosis and treatment, you’ll see providers from every aspect of pulmonary (lung) care, and similar specialties. We work together — and with you — to keep your airways clear and free from infection. Your care team could include:


Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Ohio, Florida and London.

Bronchiectasis Treatment at Cleveland Clinic

Bronchiectasis is a chronic (lifelong) condition. But we can help you manage it to avoid breathing issues and infections. There are many different ways to treat bronchiectasis. So we’ll use your health, symptoms and test results as a guide to design the most personalized treatment plan for you.


Your providers might prescribe medications to treat infection and inflammation in your lungs. You may need antibiotics that you take by mouth in pill or liquid form or that your provider gives through an IV in your vein (intravenously). And your providers might also recommend expectorants, taken by mouth or through a home nebulizer, that help thin your mucus.

Physical therapy

Our expert physical therapists use specific exercises known as chest physiotherapy to help drain mucus. Specialists tap your chest to loosen all that mucus so you can cough it up. We also teach you breathing techniques to open your airways when things feel clogged and you’re struggling to breathe.

Medical devices

We’ll help you use devices and equipment that break up thick mucus. These devices use high-frequency airwaves and vibrations to move and thin the mucus. When it becomes loosened, you’re able to cough it out to improve your breathing.

Oxygen therapy

If mucus becomes so thick you can’t get enough oxygen, you may develop hypoxia (not enough oxygen in your body tissues). If this happens, we’ll give you oxygen therapy so your organs can stay at a healthy.


When less-invasive treatments don’t help, we may recommend surgery to remove part of your airway, particularly if you have bleeding in your lungs.

Taking the Next Step

Always struggling to breathe can wear you down — and stress you out. It shouldn’t be that hard (or scary) to do something so natural. Cleveland Clinic experts are here with personalized treatments to help you manage your bronchiectasis so you don’t have to worry about every breath you take.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s bronchiectasis experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s bronchiectasis experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

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