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Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM)

Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are organisms naturally found in soil and water. In some people, the organism infects the airways and lung tissue leading to disease.

Learn about Nontuberculous Mycobacteria

NTM lung infection occurs when a person inhales the organism from their environment. Most people do not become ill but for some susceptible individuals, a slowly progressive and destructive disease can occur.

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Nontuberculosis Mycobacteria Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors

Doctors do not know why only some people develop NTM lung disease. In most cases, people who get sick from NTM have some other health condition like another lung disease or a weak immune system. The symptoms caused by NTM infection can vary from no symptoms to severe cough, fatigue, and weight loss.

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Diagnosing and Treating Nontuberculosis Mycobacteria

Diagnosis of NTM lung disease is often delayed, because the symptoms are similar to other lung diseases like COPD, bronchitis or bronchiectasis. However, once NTM infection is suspected, diagnosis is not difficult.

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Living With Nontuberculosis Mycobacteria

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.

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Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Nontuberculosis Mycobacteria

Making notes before your visit, as well as taking along a trusted family member or friend, can help you through the first appointment with your doctor about NTM.

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

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