Hoping to increase awareness of an often-debilitating and misdiagnosed lung condition called nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease, the COPD Foundation is hosting a Facebook discussion on Feb. 28 in recognition of Rare Disease Day.
The 1 p.m. EST event is titled “Constant Cough, Fatigue & Shortness of Breath? Expert Reveals NTM Lung Disease as a Potential Cause.” A Facebook account is not required to watch the discussion.
According to a news release, the half-hour event will feature Doreen Addrizzo-Harris, MD, pulmonologist and professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, and a patient with NTM lung disease. In addition to the disease’s effect on daily life, the two will discuss symptoms and risk factors, and how to get tested.
NTM lung disease is a general term for a group of disorders characterized by exposure to specific, usually benign bacterial germs known as mycobacteria, found in water and soil. In NTM disorders, the severity of infection and disease course can vary greatly from one person to another.
Most patients who develop NTM lung disease have an underlying lung condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, or asthma, but individuals with no history of lung disease can also be affected.
The most common symptoms of the disease include persistent cough, fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, shortness of breath, and coughing up blood. NTM lung disease can cause severe, sometimes permanent damage to the lungs.
Less severe infections may not require treatment. In other cases, the infection can become chronic, requiring ongoing treatment.
According to the American Lung Association, there are roughly 80,000 people with NTM in the United States, with a much higher frequency in older people. The incidence of the disease is reportedly on the rise worldwide.
The COPD Foundation also has a Bronchiectasis and NTM Initiative, established to meet unmet needs of those disease communities. The initiative offers a global online platform for patient connection, educational resources, and research programs designed to help accelerate therapies for bronchiectasis and NTM.
The foundation’s Bronchiectasis and NTM Research Registry is a database of patients from major clinical and research institutions. The goal is to support collaborative research and assist in clinical trial planning, and to provide better insight into the two disorders.