Whether you are a pulmonary or infectious disease specialist, an internist or allergy and immunology specialist, or practice in another area of medicine, knowing the symptoms of pulmonary NTM infection will help you recognize it in patients and determine whether to order diagnostic testing.
Patients with NTM infections often experience a variety or even all of the following:
1. Cough - This may be persistent or periodic and may be productive or non-productive, meaning you may or may not cough out sputum. Lung disease may cause you to cough up blood. If you cough up blood, you should contact your doctor. If you are coughing very large amounts of blood (a cupful or more within a 24-hour period), contact your doctor and seek emergency help immediately. If you are coughing a small amount of blood (less than several tablespoonfuls within a 24-hour period), call your physician as soon as possible. Any time you cough up blood, it is essential to remain calm and still.
2. Night Sweats, Fever - You may experience some low-grade fever rather than the high and debilitating fever associated with flu or other illness. It is common that the sensation of feverishness and sweating is more prominent or only experienced at night.
3. Loss of Weight and Loss of Appetite - It is not uncommon to lose weight and therefore it is important to be aware of weight changes. Please consult with your doctor and/or a nutritionist to determine how to modify and augment your diet so that you get enough calories to maintain your weight at an ideal level that helps your body fight the illness and keep up your strength. The mycobacteria may compete with your body for calories.
4. Lack of Energy - Many patients note a variable but often profound sense of fatigue.