Why have I got bronchiectasis?

For up to half of people diagnosed with bronchiectasis, there’s no clear underlying cause. This is called idiopathic bronchiectasis.

Some illnesses linked to bronchiectasis include:

  • having had a severe lung infection such as pneumonia, whooping cough or tuberculosis
    in the past
  • inflammatory bowel disease, also called ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • immune system deficiencies
  • arthritis disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • a problem with the normal structure or function of your lungs, such as primary ciliary dyskinesia

Other causes include:

  • a severe allergic response to fungus or moulds such as aspergillus
  • gastric reflux
  • a blockage of your airways, by items such as peanuts

Sometimes, people who have lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma for many years develop bronchiectasis.

Bronchiectasis is not the same as asthma or COPD. Bronchiectasis is not caused by smoking in the way that COPD is.

Next: Diagnosing bronchiectasis >

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Last medically reviewed: March 2017. Due for review: March 2020

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.