If you have been a member of the COPD360social community for a while, you might have heard of bronchiectasis and NTM lung disease. These two conditions are often linked with each other but are not the same.
Here are 4 things to know about bronchiectasis and NTM lung disease that you might not be aware of.
- Bronchiectasis is NOT COPD. Although both conditions are classified as lung diseases, they are diagnosed differently. As you may know, to diagnose COPD you probably had a PFT (pulmonary function test) and/or a chest x-ray. Bronchiectasis is diagnosed by using a CT scan. Measurements are taken of the small airways to check if the condition is present. Symptoms of these two conditions are different from person to person. People with bronchiectasis often have increased mucus in their lungs causing frequent coughing.
- NTM lung disease is still considered rare but NTM (the bacteria that causes NTM lung disease) is NOT RARE. In our daily lives, we can be exposed to NTM bacteria. NTM can be found lurking in places like the soil and the water that we use every day that comes out of our faucets. NTM can enter our lungs as we breathe in steam and soil particles. A person with healthy lungs can clear these bacteria easily, however, if your lungs are affected by COPD or another lung condition, you may be more prone to an NTM lung infection.
- The medicines that treat bronchiectasis and COPD are not the same. Those with COPD are often prescribed medicines to reduce inflammation in the lungs and open the airways. Many of the inhaled medications that you hear about each day have been created to help those with COPD breathe easier. Those with bronchiectasis are rarely prescribed inhaled steroids or long-acting bronchodilators (unless they have another lung condition like COPD or asthma), and they typically only use fast-acting bronchodilators to help open the airway for mucus clearance. Nebulized forms of saline with a higher salt content are often used by those with bronchiectasis. This can help to thin mucus and make it easier to cough out. COPD and bronchiectasis can overlap causing symptoms of both conditions to be present in some people. To learn more about COPD/bronchiectasis overlap click here.
- Those who have NTM lung disease often stay on antibiotic treatment for at least one year.When a flare-up happens your health care provider may prescribe you an antibiotic for a varied length of time (typically less than a month). If someone has NTM lung disease, they are often asked to take 2-3 antibiotics to treat the NTM lung infection. They often take these medications for one year after their mucus is clear of NTM. Being on multiple antibiotics for a long time can cause stomach upset and weight loss.
Learning about other lung conditions that could affect you can be overwhelming but may help you to recognize symptoms if they occur. Do you want to learn more about bronchiectasis and NTM lung disease? I invite you to visit Bronchiectasis and NTM 360.