Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Week

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Information for Patients

Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Week


What is NTM

NTM (Nontuberculous mycobacteria) are naturally occurring environmental organisms found in water and soil and can produce progressive and destructive lung disease in susceptible individuals.

How is NTM Diagnosed

Chest CT scan and sputum culture provide a detailed look at the lungs and determine what strain of mycobacteria the patient has

Reducing Exposure

Doctors believe that patients with underlying lung conditions may become infected with NTM from inhalation of mycobacteria that become aerosolized when the patient showers in an enclosed shower stall or sits in an indoor hot tub. There are several things you can do today to reduce your exposure to NTM.


The symptoms caused by NTM can vary per patient. Some of the most common symptoms are severe cough, fatigue and weight loss.

Quality of Life

NTM lung disease is a serious illness that has an impact on your life, and it can have a serious impact on your family's life as well. You do not need to deal with your illness alone…support, information and resources are available.


Part of your treatment should include eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight

Traveling Tips

Travel, particularly by airplane, can become burdensome for NTM patients who deal with medications through IV or inhalation, or who require supplemental oxygen. Thankfully, there are ways to make this much easier for you, your traveling companions, and any security personnel you will deal with along the way.

Building a Family Health History

Knowing what illnesses you have had, including childhood illnesses, may provide your doctor with additional understanding of why certain underlying lung conditions exist.

ATS Breathing in America Book

The Breathing in America: Diseases, Progress, and Hope compilationbriefly describes respiratory diseases and the progress that is being made in the quest to find their cures.

ATS Patient Information Series

The ATS Patient Information Series is a public service of the American Thoracic Society and its journal the AJRCCM ( The information appearing in this series is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the medical advice of one’s personal health care provider.