Who gets NTM Lung Disease?
Though NTM lung disease (pulmonary NTM disease) is not as well-known or understood as TB, we know that there are certain underlying conditions (sometimes referred to as a comorbidity) that make some people more susceptible to NTM infection, such as prior lung infection as well as bronchiectasis and genetic diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD), which often have a statistically demonstrable link with NTM.
In a substantial number of cases, NTM patients have one or more comorbidity. However, it is still not completely clear why some people get infected and some don’t.
In the past, nontuberculous mycobacterial lung disease in North America was seen predominantly in men and was often misdiagnosed as TB. NTM lung disease then started to be seen more in slender Caucasian post-menopausal women, but we are now seeing it in men, younger women, and children. In other areas of the world, such as the Netherlands, the patient profile has also historically been different and is also changing.
Immunosuppressive medications such as chemotherapy, prednisone, or drugs used to treat conditions such as RA, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease, have been shown to increase the risk of NTM infection.
Other underlying conditions include pneumonia, prior inhalation of inorganic dust including silica, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is spillage of material from the esophagus into the lungs), COPD, emphysema, or cigarette-induced lung disease.