Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are types of germs that can cause infections in humans. While infections caused by NTM are similar to Tuberculosis (TB), they are not TB and do not cause TB. NTM infections are not considered contagious and affect approximately 30 in 100,000 people. There has been a steady increase in the number of people with NTM infections over time. The elderly and those with immune system diseases are especially at risk.
NTM infections can be difficult to diagnose and treat because symptoms vary greatly in both type and severity. Some people harbor the germs and remain well while others develop symptoms consistent with progressive illness. Your health care provider will need to determine if your NTM infection requires treatment.
Being cured of NTM is possible. Because NTM are naturally resistant to common antibiotics, you may need to take multiple antibiotics over the course of an extended period, ranging from a few months up to two years. Typically, someone will take three different antibiotics. If the infection is localized, surgery may also be beneficial.
Adhering closely to your treatment program is important, especially when it comes to taking your antibiotics as directed and for the duration indicated. Your health care provider should monitor you closely while you undergo treatment to manage negative side effects of medication.