Tips for Living with NTM Lung Disease

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Diagnosing NTM Lung Disease

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Learn what you can expect when living with NTM lung disease, get tips on talking to your health care provider about your treatment options, using a treatment tracker, coping with emotions, and finding support groups.

What to Expect

Treatment of your NTM lung disease typically requires taking multiple antibiotics, often for several years, due to the fact that the bacteria can be challenging to get rid of. Because this disease may last for a year or more, it is important to know what to expect when living with NTM lung disease.

  • Treatment of NTM lung disease varies from person to person.
  • How your nontuberculosis mycobacteria is treated depends on the type of organism causing the infection, the severity of your symptoms and your health history.
  • It will be important to prevent infections through good hygiene and regular immunizations.
  • Exercise will help you build your endurance, strengthen your breathing ability and lift your mood.
  • A well-balanced diet will help you maintain a healthy weight and get the nutrients you need to fight your infection.
  • Take some steps to reduce your exposure to NTM in your environment
  • Side effects from the medications are common.
  • It will be important to stay in close communication with your healthcare team about your treatment, and any side effects you are experiencing.
  • Learning how to best manage your side effects will help you to be able to follow your recommended treatment plan.
  • Because your treatment may last for a year or more, it is normal to have different emotions related to your ongoing treatment, symptoms and side effects that you may experience.
  • It can be helpful to join the American Lung Association’s 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.
  • No matter what treatment approach your healthcare provider and you decide on, you will need to be monitored with regular follow-up exams to make sure that the treatment method is working best for you.
  • Contact your healthcare provider sooner if you have any changes or concerns about your health or treatment plan.

How to Best Track Your Treatment

Because your treatment plan will be specific to you, it is important to have a way to keep track of your medications, side effects, and more. Using this Treatment Goals Worksheet will help you follow the plan that you and your healthcare provider develop together.

Key Points

  • A negative sputum sample is the ultimate goal of following your treatment plan.
  • Using this Treatment Goals Worksheet will provide you with a plan that you can follow and refer to during your treatment journey.

Page last updated: May 24, 2023

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