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Living With NTM

What to Expect

Most people with NTM lung disease experience chronic cough and fatigue. This can make you feel isolated, anxious, or depressed. Treatment is long and often has many side effects. A complete cure can be expected with some NTM species and not with others. Re-infection is common, so some lifestyle modifications may be necessary.

Managing the Disease

Most patients with NTM pulmonary disease have another underlying lung disease, such asr bronchiectasis or COPD. Treatment of these illnesses can help improve some of the symptoms of NTM disease, like cough and shortness of breath.

Fatigue is a common symptom. It is important for patients to maintain their weight through proper nutrition and use nutritional supplements if necessary. Exercise is also important and may improve feelings of fatigue.

While being treated with antibiotics, patients should take the medication as recommended. Working with a provider or pharmacist can be helpful to determine the best time to take your medications or if you should take the medication on an empty stomach. If symptoms develop, it is important to communicate with your provider. In most cases, these symptoms can be lessened by changing the type or amount of medication you take.

Finding Support

NTM lung disease is a serious infection that can have a significant impact on your life and that of your families and friends. Depression and anxiety are common, and you should feel comfortable discussing these feelings with your provider and family. Communicating your needs and feelings is important.

The Lung Association recommends patients and caregivers join our Living with Lung Disease Support Community to connect with others facing this disease. You can also call the Lung Association’s Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA to talk to a trained respiratory professional who can help answer your questions and connect you with support.

You can also visit the NTM Info & Research website, the not-for-profit foundation for patients with NTM disease. For patients who do not live near a support group, NTMir provides an online forum for patients.

    This content was developed in partnership with the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians.

    Last updated April 4, 2018.

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