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, often infect the lungs of people with bronchiectasis.
Approximately 50% of people with bronchiectasis may have active NTM lung disease.
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.
People with COPD are almost 16 times more likely to get NTM lung disease.
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, but may occur in response to exercise or exposure to environmental triggers.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can cause serious illness. 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, or bronchi, in the lungs. Symptoms include coughing up mucus and shortness of breath. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic.
The symptoms of NTM lung disease are similar to other lung conditions. So similar, in fact, that NTM lung disease is sometimes misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. People can have NTM for months, sometimes years, without knowing it. Many people have symptoms, but may 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 have an NTM infection.
While NTM lung disease is considered rare, cases in the US are rising, growing 8% each year. In 2018, it was estimated that 75,000–105,000 patients would be diagnosed with NTM lung disease in the US.
Some areas of the US have higher rates of NTM lung disease. In fact, 7 out of 10 of all NTM infections in the US occur along a coastal area.