Tucson Morning Blend


When a Cough is More than a Cold or the Flu

Posted at 12:17 PM, Dec 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-06 14:17:56-05

December may trigger peak cold and flu season, but symptoms, such as coughing and fatigue, could be a sign of something else. These symptoms could also be due to a progressive and chronic condition called nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease. Everyone is exposed to NTM bacteria during their daily lives, as NTM can be found in everyday items, such as tap water, showerheads, steam from hot tubs and soil from parks and gardens.

While most people will not develop NTM lung disease, people with a history of lung conditions like bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma are at an even greater risk, because damage from these conditions can make it easier for NTM to infect the lungs.

The symptoms of NTM lung disease are similar to other lung conditions, which often causes delayed diagnosis of the condition. Those who have it may not even know it for months or sometimes years. In some cases, the disease can cause severe, even permanent damage to the lungs, so early detection and management is crucial to improve patient outcomes.

To spotlight this serious and often overlooked condition, Dr. Julie Philley, The University of Texas Health, and Philip Leitman, President, NTM Info and Research, Inc. (NTMir), share their experiences with, and perspectives on, NTM lung disease.

About Philip Leitman
Philip Leitman likes to tell people that the most important job he ever had was caring for his late wife, Fern, who was ill for nearly two decades with a complex resistant Mycobacterium Abscessus pulmonary infection. His passion is helping NTM patients individually and through NTMir, an organization he and his late wife co-founded in 2002.

About Dr. Julie Philley
Dr. Julie Philley is a pulmonologist at The University of Texas Health in Tyler, Texas. She is board certified in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and serves as the Chair of the Department of Medicine and Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care.

Visit AboutNTM.com for additional information about NTM lung disease.