Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) & Bronchiectasis

When breathing with NTM and bronchiectasis becomes harder, the choice becomes easier.

Loma Linda University Comprehensive Program for Obstructive Airway Diseases

What is Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM)?

  • Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are a group of organisms typically found in the soil and water which have the potential to cause severe respiratory illness.
  • NTM is not contagious, it does not cause tuberculosis (TB).
  • NTM lung disease is often difficult to diagnose because the organism must be cultured on special media and the presence of an organism in the sputum does not necessarily mean a patient has the disease.

Problem within the United States

Nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung infection is a chronic and debilitating lung condition. Every year the number of NTM cases grow more than 8% each year with an estimated 86,000 cases across the United States.


Who is at risk for NTM?

  • The disease is more common in older patients, those with structural lung disease, such as Cystic Fibrosis (CF), bronchiectasis or COPD, and individuals with a compromised immune system, such as HIV infection, cancer, or on certain medical treatment
  • 35 -50% of patients with bronchiectasis may also have an active NTM lung infection.

Symptoms for NTM?

  • Patients often have symptoms for many years before the diagnosis is made because it is an uncommon disease and not initially considered by their physician
  • Symptoms include:
    • Cough that may also be productive
    • Fever
    • Night sweats
    • Weight loss
    • Fatigue
    • Blood in phlegm

Treatment for NTM

  • The treatment for NTM lung disease is intense, typically requiring multiple antibiotics for months to years
  • A team approach to treatment is preferable as there are potential side effects of medicines that need to be monitored
  • Less than 20% of physicians treating NTM lung disease prescribe the correct antibiotic regimen

More Information on Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM)

American Thoracic Society

Patient Information SeriesNontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM)

Am J Respir Crit Care Med Vol. 195 , P15-P16, 2017

What is Bronchiectasis?

Bronchiectasis (bron-kee-eck-tuh-sis) is a lung condition that causes cough, sputum production, and recurrent respiratory infections. The symptoms are caused by abnormal dilation (widening) of the airways of the lung (bronchi). In some cases only one airway is affected. In other cases, many are affected. In very severe cases, dilation of the airways occurs throughout the lungs.

What are the Symptoms of Bronchiectasis?

The most common symptom of bronchiectasis is cough, which is usually productive of sputum (phlegm).
Other symptoms that patients experience with bronchiectasis:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up of blood

How is Bronchiectasis Diagnosed?

Bronchiectasis is most commonly diagnosed with a CT scan of the chest (CAT scan), it can also be sometimes seen on X-ray imaging.

CT Scanner

What is the treatment for Bronchiectasis?

Because bronchiectasis is a condition that develops over many years and worsens with repeated infections, the main treatment goal is to reduce stagnant secretions (mucus, sputum) in the airways and germs contained in those secretions.

More Information on Bronchiectasis

American Thoracic Society

Patient Information Series – Bronchiectasis Part 1

Bronchiectasis Part 2

Meet Our Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) & Bronchiectasis Lung Specialists

Contact Us

Loma Linda University Faculty Medical Group


11370 Anderson St., Suite 3300
Loma Linda, CA 92354