I frequently post on social media about upcoming webinars from a non-profit organization, NTM Info & Research. People have repeatedly asked me what NTM is and what it has to do with bronchiectasis, so I thought I would share this information.
There are over 180 species of Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) and they are present in water, including drinking and showering water as well as in soil. Many people who have bronchiectasis (BE) will eventually get an NTM infection. Why? Because when our airways are inflamed and dilated from BE, mucus pools and provides a welcoming environment for them to grow.
NTM infections are challenging to cure and even when we manage to get rid of them, in 50% of the cases, the same bacteria will reappear or we will get infected by a different NTM organism. This is why some of us, including me, take precautions against acquiring other infections.
With that said, many people with bronchiectasis who do not have an infection, choose to lead their lives without changes to their showering habits, drinking water, use of hot tubs, humidifiers and indoor pools. Additionally, some who already have an infection also choose not to restrict NTM exposure because these bacteria are everywhere in the environment and trying to prevent an infection can seem like a futile undertaking. What you decide to do, how you choose to go about your life is entirely your decision. But I do think it is important to understand NTM infections, how you can, if you so choose, minimize exposure and to discuss these issues with your health care team.
Here are resources that will further explain NTM infections:
Comprehensive website--NTM Info & Reasearch--NTMinfo.org
Fantastic article on the most common NTM bacteria--Reducing Human Exposure to Mycobacterium Avium---- https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201301-013FR
#bronchiectasis #NTMlungdisease #MAClungdisease
Linda Cooper Esposito, MPH is a health educator with bronchiectasis. She developed the BE CLEAR Method to Living with Bronchiectasis and writes with compassion and humor about this chronic lung disease.