Medication for Bronchiectasis in Adults

NYU Langone doctors often prescribe medications for people with bronchiectasis. These medications can help treat infections, minimize damage to the lungs, and possibly prevent new damage from occurring. NYU Langone pulmonologists may recommend several medications, depending on your symptoms.

Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are inhaled medications that relax the muscles surrounding the airways. They can be prescribed for short-acting, or “rescue,” relief to ease the shortness of breath that can occur during symptom flare-ups. They may also be used long-term to help manage or prevent symptoms.

Antibiotics

Depending on the severity of bronchiectasis, your doctor may prescribe short-term or long-term antibiotics. If you have an acute infection that is exacerbating your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a strong antibiotic, usually for 7 to 10 days. If you have frequent infections, your doctor may put you on inhaled antibiotics for a period of days or weeks to destroy bacteria in the airways and prevent an infection from worsening. 

Antibiotics can be administered with the help of a device called a nebulizer, which converts liquid medication into a mist that is inhaled. They can also be taken by mouth. The dosage depends on the type your doctor prescribes. 

Side effects vary, but certain doses of antibiotics may cause stomach upset, joint pain, or depression. You and your doctor can discuss potential side effects before you begin therapy.

Anti-Reflux Medications

If gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD, is exacerbating your symptoms, your pulmonologist may refer you to an NYU Langone gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in gastrointestinal disorders. He or she may prescribe medications that control GERD symptoms, such as antacids, H2 blockers, and proton-pump inhibitors.

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