NTM is rare, but if you’ve been living with a lung condition, such as bronchiectasis, COPD, or asthma, you are at greater risk of being infected. Sometimes you can get infected if you have had severe or chronic pneumonia. That’s because lung conditions cause damage to the lungs and make it difficult to get rid of NTM bacteria. This makes people with lung conditions more at risk for getting an NTM lung infection.
People with lung conditions have a higher
chance of getting NTM. Those lung conditions include:
Bronchiectasis happens when the walls of the airways, or bronchi, thicken from chronic inflammation and/or infection, leading to the build-up of mucus. Bacteria, like NTM, and other microbes often infect the lungs of people with bronchiectasis.
COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. Progressive means the disease gets worse over time. COPD can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.
Asthma is a lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can make people very sick. Pneumonia can cause a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. For most people, pneumonia may be treated at home. It often clears up with antibiotics, but older adults and people with other conditions may become very sick.
Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways, bronchi, in the lung. Symptoms include coughing up mucus and shortness of breath. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic.
The symptoms of NTM are similar to other lung conditions. So similar, in fact, that NTM is sometimes misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. People can have NTM for months, sometimes years, without knowing it. Many people have symptoms, but think it’s due to a lung condition they already have.
If this sounds like you, talk to your doctor about whether or not you may be suffering from an NTM lung infection.
7 out of 10 of all NTM infections in the US occur along a coastal area.
Does it sound like you could have an NTM lung infection? People just like you have shared their stories in hopes of spreading more awareness about this rare disease.