The most common symptom of bronchiectasis is a persistent cough that brings up a large amount of phlegm on a daily basis.

The phlegm can be clear, pale yellow or yellow-greenish in colour. Some people may only occasionally cough up small amounts of phlegm, or none at all.

Other symptoms may include:

Signs of a lung infection

If you develop a lung infection, your symptoms usually get worse within a few days. This is known as an infective exacerbation.

It can cause:

You may also:

When to seek medical advice

If you have not previously been diagnosed with bronchiectasis and you develop a persistent cough, visit a GP for advice.

While persistent coughing may not necessarily be the result of bronchiectasis, it needs further investigation.

If you have been diagnosed with bronchiectasis previously and begin to experience symptoms that suggest you have a lung infection, contact a GP.

You'll usually need treatment with antibiotics.

Some people with bronchiectasis are given a stock of antibiotics as a precaution in case they suddenly develop a lung infection.

When to seek immediate medical advice

Some people with bronchiectasis develop a severe lung infection that may need to be treated in hospital.

Signs and symptoms of a serious lung infection include:

If you experience any of the above, phone the healthcare professional in charge of your care immediately.

This may be a GP, a doctor who specialises in lung conditions (pulmonologist), or a specialist nurse.

If this is not possible, call NHS 111 or your local out-of-hours service.

Page last reviewed: 1 August 2019
Next review due: 1 August 2019