I have had a nontuberculous mycobacterial infection(NTM) called a Mycobacterium Avium Complex infection (MAC).
These infections are difficult to treat (3 antibiotics for at least 12 months) so I take precautions to reduce the possibility of acquiring new ones.
The good news is many who have bronchiectasis do not have MAC infections and there is roughly a 75 percent chance they never will. But for those of us who already have a MAC infection or have had one in the past, our lung health is at greater risk.
Water is a source of NTM bacteria. According to water expert Dr. Falkinham, NTM bacteria are in all municipal water systems. Well, you might be thinking, they chlorinate water so what’s the problem?
The problem is that NTM have a bunch of superpowers including a thick fatty coat that prevents water and disinfectants from entering their organism. This means that chlorine in the concentration in water systems is not strong enough to kill NTM.
To make matters worse, NTM rarely hang out alone, but rather in “protective gangs” more scientifically known as “biofilms.”
They line our plumbing pipes and accumulate in our showerheads. The best way to deal with these bad guys is by mechanically removing them by scrubbing and killing them with heat. Some or all of the following can be done to decrease exposure in the bathroom:
Open a bathroom window while bathing
Run a bathroom fan while bathing
Take short showers
Use a showerhead with large holes
Increase your hot water tank temperature to 130 degrees
Let your taps run for several minutes before using water
Soak your showerhead in un-diluted bleach for 30 minutes or replace your showerhead regularly
Take a bath instead on a shower
Run faucets that are rarely used like those in a vacation home for 5 minutes before use
For Dr. Falkinham’s full article, go to my website’s “Resources” page and scroll to the bottom:
#maclungdisease #ntmlungdisease #Bronchiectasis
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.