How Much Do You Know About NTM Disease?

There are many bacteria in the world attempting to cause harm to the body. In particular, there are many people who suffer from diseases caused by bacteria in the lungs. Nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM for short) disease is a very serious and troubling lung infection. 

It’s possible for anyone to get NTM lung disease simply by breathing in the bacteria that causes it. NTM infections get far worse when they become a chronic and repetitive issue. People who suffer from these infections have to undergo treatment for 12 months at a time to stop them! It’s important to see a doctor as soon as symptoms appear to try and get treatment begun as soon as possible. Of course, to know you need to see a doctor, you need to know the symptoms to look out for! 

Causes and Risk Factors of NTM Disease

People get NTM disease when they breathe in the mycobacteria that causes it. Typically these mycobacteria are commonly found environmentally in water and in soil. The majority of people exposed to this bacteria don’t actually get NTM disease. There are many risk factors which can alter this and increase the chance of getting NTM disease. 

As people age, they are more likely to get a case of NTM disease. People who suffer from other lung diseases like COPD or tuberculosis are more likely to get NTM disease. The same can be said for people who have a compromised and weak immune system. This includes conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Esophageal disorders like GERD also increase the chance of NTM disease. People who are exposed to high levels of soil or who are consistently exposed to indoor hot tubs may find their risk increased as well. 

Symptoms of NTM Lung Disease

Typically, most people who suffer from NTM disease have some degree of symptoms. The more serious and severe the infection is, the more serious and severe the symptoms will be right along with it. In some cases, people don’t notice any symptoms. Most symptoms tend to be related to the lungs, but it’s possible to have symptoms related to the other parts of the body. Symptoms can include: 

  • Coughing - Specifically, it’s continuous coughing that will seemingly won’t go away. 
  • Hemoptysis - This is a symptom in which the person is coughing up blood. 
  • Shortness of Breath - This is a common symptom for people with NTM disease. 
  • Fatigue - This is one of the symptoms that doesn’t specifically relate to the lungs directly. 
  • Fever - This fever tends to be a long lasting and low-grade fever. 
  • Sweating - Sweating occurs during the night regardless of the temperature in question. 
  • Weight Loss - Many people lose weight without really trying to do so. 

Treatment of NTM Disease

Once NTM disease is discovered and diagnosed, then treatment will begin. One of the issues with NTM disease is just how resistant it can be to medications. In many cases, it’s resistant to antibiotics. Especially when it’s only a single antibiotic being used. Because of this, medications will be combined with two or three different antibiotics being used at the same time. Medicinal treatments aren’t short either. It takes around 12 months for the full round of antibiotics to be completed. 

In some cases, the lungs have become badly damaged through NTM disease. In these cases, it’s possible that surgery is going to be required to remove some of the severely damaged parts of the lung. This option is only taken after a lot of diagnostics are completed and consultation has likely been made with a whole medical team.

Disclaimer: The articles on this website are not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor are they meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Treatment or advice used by a reader may have varying results, as each individual is different. Any article reader with a health-related question, is encouraged to seek a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider. The articles on this website should not be used to disregard any medical or health-related advice, nor should they be the root cause for delay in seeing a doctor or a certified health provider.

The articles on this website should not be used to start the use of dietary supplements or vitamins, natural or herbal products, homeopathic medicine or other mentioned products prior to a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider.

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