Type of disease: Rare conditions
Tracheomalacia (TM) is a rare condition where the trachea is weak due to soft cartilage in a certain area or throughout the trachea. If the mainstem bronchi are involved as well, the term tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) is used. Breathing becomes difficult as a result of the soft tracheal cartilage. Other signs and symptoms include wheezing, frequent upper respiratory infections and a bluish color to the skin surrounding the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth. The cause of this condition is believed to be hereditary when it occurs in children. In adults, smoking or second hand smoke, thyroid tumors, chronic irritation and damage to the trachea are all possible causes. The recommended treatment for this condition is surgery to correct the weakened trachea. It should be noted that, historically, many authors have used TM and TBM interchangeably, especially in studies found in the pediatric literature. (Click here to view a diagram of the respiratory system which includes the trachea and the bronchi.) Source: Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), supported by ORDR-NCATS and NHGRI.