Talk to Your Doctor

If you think you may have an NTM lung infection, there is something you can do. Talk to your doctor or a lung specialist about your symptoms and any lung conditions you have, and ask if getting tested for NTM may be right for you. It’s important to get tested for NTM as soon as possible because NTM is progressive. This means that it gets worse over time, causing more damage to your lungs. Your symptoms can get worse too.

Getting tested for NTM

Getting tested is the first step to being properly diagnosed. The sooner you receive a diagnosis, the sooner you can begin to evaluate your treatment options with your doctor.

But starting the dialogue isn’t always easy. Visits may be short and it can be difficult to remember everything you want to say at an appointment.

About NTM Discussion Guide

To prepare for your discussion, use the About NTM Discussion Guide to record the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, your history of lung disease, medical history, and list the questions you have. Then, bring the Discussion Guide with you to your next appointment.

About NTM Discussion Guide

Who to Speak To

Diagnosing NTM can be difficult because the symptoms of NTM are common and can be mistaken for other lung conditions. Also, NTM is a rare disease. It’s so rare that some doctors may not be familiar with it.

If you think you have NTM, ask your doctor if you should be referred to a Pulmonologist or an Infectious Disease (ID) Specialist. Pulmonologists and ID Specialists are doctors who have special training with lung infections and are more likely to be familiar with testing for and treating NTM.

However, because NTM is rare, you may find that some specialists have limited NTM experience. This is why you may want to consider finding a specialist who has experience caring for people with NTM.

Pulmonologists and Infectious disease specialists
Pulmonologists and Infectious disease specialists

Pulmonologists

Doctors that focus on the health of the lungs.

Pulmonologists and Infectious disease specialists

Infectious Disease Specialists

Doctors with special training in all kinds of infections, including those caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.

Diagnosing NTM can get you on the road to feeling better. Talking to a pulmonologist or an infectious disease specialist about your symptoms is the first step.

Finding a Specialist

If you think you could be suffering from NTM, or if you’ve already been diagnosed, you may wish to see a doctor in your area who specializes in lung diseases. You can start your search for a local specialist with the tools below:

Why it’s Important to Get Tested

It’s critical to get tested for NTM as soon as possible because NTM is progressive. This means that it gets worse over time, causing more damage to your lungs. Your symptoms can get worse too.

2 out of 3 people with NTM have lung disease

In fact, 2 out of 3 people with an NTM infection have moderate to severe lung disease by the time they’re finally diagnosed. That’s why, if you’re having symptoms, it’s important to talk to a specialist if your symptoms are not going away, or are getting worse.

How to Test
for NTM

When you see your specialist,
he or she may do the following:

Physical exam

A Physical Exam

Medical history

Medical History—Your doctor will look at your health history and any lung conditions you currently have and the symptoms you are currently experiencing

Mucus sputum culture

Sputum Culture—Your doctor will ask you to cough up mucus. Once they get your mucus, they will analyze your mucus and look for bacteria. They may repeat this process for a correct diagnosis

Chest CT scan image

Chest CT Scan—This image of the body uses special equipment to show damage in your lungs

If you test positive for NTM lung infection, your doctor will decide what your next step is, including potential treatment options. You will need to continue seeing your doctor regularly so he or she can monitor your lungs.

About NTM discussion guide