What Is NTM?
NTM lung disease is a disease caused by a bacterial infection. Though the presence of the bacteria isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, it’s important for doctors to be able to determine if it’s a temporary colonization, or a true infection, as an infection is what goes on to cause progressive lung disease. Advances in medical technology have made it easier for doctors to be able to determine this in recent years, and if caught early NTM lung disease treatment can be undertaken and most patients can expect a recovery.
What Is NTM’s Signs And Symptoms?
The most common symptom of NTM is a chronic dry cough; however, that’s leaves a very wide spectrum of possibility. Other symptoms can vary from person to person, so seeing a healthcare professional is the only way to know for sure if you have NTM. That being said, a few of the most notable symptoms can include:
- Weakness and fatigue.
- Chest pain and shortness of breath.
- Coughing up blood.
- Low fever.
- Night sweats.
- Weight loss.
If you have any concerns don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for a correct diagnosis. Self diagnosis is impossible, and it can be difficult to diagnose over all due to its similarity to COPD, cystic fibrosis, and chronic pulmonary disease.
What Is NTM’s Common Treatment?
For treatment to begin a healthcare professional will determine:
- The overall severity of NTM.
- The risk of progression.
- The presence of any comorbid conditions.
This will help a doctor put together a more effective treatment plan.
Treatment of NTM lung disease is usually a combination of multiple antibiotics, up to 5 in more severe cases. If the infection is relatively mild, a prescription for 3 antibiotics will typically be given. These should be taken 3 days per week, depending on the patient.
More severe cases may require a daily regimen of antibiotics, in addition to intravenous medication as well. If IV therapy is unable to be conducted, due to allergies, or other medical issues, a nebulized form of medication may be given in its place.
The main goal of these treatments is to convert taken cultures from positive to negative. Once samples are shown to be negative for the bacteria, the treatment can be considered successful. However, overall success may also require:
- Frequent cultures to be collected and tested.
- Clinical assessments within 3 to 6 months.
- After 12 months of antibiotic therapy, the cultures should be reading negative.
- Cultures must continue to remain negative for another 12 months.
Antibiotics will usually be given for at least 12 months after the negative culture reading. This helps lower the chance of sudden recurrence. If these treatments aren’t have the desired effect, surgery can also be used to remove the infected portion of the lung. This is a good option for those who aren’t responding to an antibiotic treatment, but who have a localized area of the disease that can be more easily removed.