Other Related Diseases

Damage to lung tissue can occur for a number of reasons. This damage is often referred to as bronchiectasis.

In addition to illnesses such as pneumonia, pseudomonas and aspergillus infection, other diseases, called co-morbidities, which may make someone susceptible to NTM lung infection, include:

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, a genetic disorder caused by defective production of a protein called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin, causing decreased activity of the protein in the lungs, and a build up of the protein in the liver. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency can cause serious lung and/or liver damage. Some NTM patients are diagnosed with Alpha-1, and some Alpha-1 patients develop and NTM lung infection.

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a generalized designation for diseases involving persistent airway obstruction such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis.

Cystic Fibrosis, an inherited (genetic) chronic lung disease affecting the lungs and digestive system. It is believed that a defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and may lead to lifethreatening lung infections, and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. There is significant overlap between CF and NTM patients. Although usually diagnosed in early childhood, some NTM patients now are being diagnosed with a form of CF as adults.

Emphysema, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in which the alveoli or small airways of the lungs are damaged, which makes breathing more difficult. Emphysema is usually caused by smoking.

Gram-negative infections. Gram-negative bacteria are a group of germs that can cause respiratory infections. Some NTM patients also get gram-negative lung infections such as pseudomonas.

PCD (primary ciliary dyskinesia), an inherited disorder of motile (moving) cilia. PCD is also sometimes referred to as Kartagener syndrome (PCD with situs inversus) or immotile cilia syndrome. Motile cilia are required to keep the lungs, sinuses and ears free of organisms and debris that can cause infection and disease. A person with PCD experiences chronic, recurrent infections in the lungs, ears and sinuses due to the loss of ciliary activity in those areas.