Bronchiectasis at 20x Magnification
The primary manifestation of bronchiectasis is a chronic cough that brings up large quantities of phlegm. This phlegm often is colored yellow or green and may have a very foul odor. The excessive production of phlegm is a result of infection in the lungs, which is a habitual problem for individuals with the condition, partially due to damage to of the cilia that normally help clean out the lungs. However, other signs of infection, including fever, fatigue, and pain, are often absent from bronchiectasis patients, though in some cases their conditions can worsen and lead to pneumonia if medical treatment is not received. Bloody sputum associated with bronchiectasis is also sometimes observed, a consequence of ruptured blood vessels located near the distended walls of the bronchi. In very rare instances, bleeding related to bronchiectasis may become a medical emergency.