Prevention & Reducing Exposure

Influenza, which is commonly called flu, can be serious for a patient with an NTM infection. Speak with your doctor to be certain you understand the difference between the "flu" and a cold. For patients with chronic lung disease, an annual flu shot or vaccine and a periodic (once every five years) pneumovax or vaccine against pneumonia is generally advisable.

Try to avoid contact with people who have colds or the flu, particularly sharing drinking glasses or utensils.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water frequently, and carry hand sanitizer with you.

Other measures may help reduce (though not completely eliminate) your exposure to NTM, including:

  • Properly ventilating bathrooms or other shower/steam areas. If you have an underlying condition that might make you susceptible to NTM infection, you may wish to speak to your doctor about the advisability of bathing in a tub rather than showering.
  • Cleaning your showerheads regularly to remove the biofilm, which acts as a breeding ground for mycobacteria, by removing the showerhead and disassembling it to the best of your ability, then scrubbing it with soapy water. After cleaning it, you can also soak it in vinegar to remove calcium buildup.
  • Raising the temperature of your household water heater to 55 degrees Celcius (131 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill the mycobacteria in the hot water.
  • Using humidifiers with caution. Avoid ultrasonic humidifiers if possible, and clean your humidifier's reservoir frequently. Soak it in undiluted bleach for 30 minutes and rinse it thoroughly. When filling the humidifier, first boil the water for 10 minutes to kill any NTM. Allow the water to cool slightly before you pour it into the humidifier.
  • Wearing an inexpensive dust mask to prevent inhalation of dirt particles while working with potting soil or in the garden, and wetting down the soil to reduce the number of particles released into the air.
  • Taking steps to reduce GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), such as avoiding foods that may trigger it and avoiding vulnerable body positions that may cause aspiration.

Click here for more tips on reducing exposure.

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