For most people with CF, bacterial infections in the lungs are common. You probably know the names of the usual suspects found in CF lungs, such as “staph” (Staphylococcus aureus) or “Pseudomonas” (Pseudomonas aeruginosa).
But some people with CF have lung infections caused by a different type of bacteria. They are in the same family of bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB), but they are not TB. This group of bacteria is referred to as nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM).
NTM lung disease is not new, but it may be causing more infections in people with CF.
This section provides some key information about how NTM may affect you, how it is diagnosed and how, when needed, it is treated. Click on any of the basics below for more information.
In This Section
- Learn about NTM. These bacteria are found in the environment and can get into the lungs of people with CF and other lung diseases.
- Work with your CF team. Your CF team will check your sputum for NTM at least once a year.
- Use the right treatment for NTM. If NTM is found in your sputum, several sputum samples and often a CT scan of your chest are used to decide if treatment is needed. The treatment is usually three or more antibiotics and may last up to a year or more.
- Get help when you need it. If you find that treatments that usually make you feel better are not working so well, one possible reason may be an infection with NTM. Make sure to get a sputum sample to your CF team to be tested for NTM.
Thank you to Jerry Nick, M.D. at the National Jewish Medical & Research Center, Denver CF Care Center and Stacey L. Martiniano, M.D. at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver CF Center for writing this article.