The nonprofit NTM Info & Research (NTMir) has launched a companion website that provides extensive insight into bronchiectasis and related infections, empowering people with the condition to participate in their own treatment.
“There hasn’t been enough emphasis on the connection between NTM lung disease and the underlying lung damage, bronchiectasis, but the two go hand-in-hand,” Amy Leitman, director of policy and research at NTMir, said in a press release.
“Understanding and managing both give patients the chance for improved quality of life and better outcomes,” Leitman added.
People with bronchiectasis experience progressive dilation of the airway structures (bronchi) that conduct air to the lungs, forming pouches or areas of tissue scarring that eventually trap mucus. These irreversible changes make it progressively more difficult for air to enter the lungs and for oxygen to reach vital organs.
Bronchiectasis often arises as a consequence of another medical condition, such as bacterial infections in the lungs. Such infections can cause tissue scarring and damage to the hair-like structures in the airways, preventing them from efficiently clearing mucus. Some of these infections are caused by NTM, a set of more than 160 species of mycobacteria found naturally in the environment.
While NMT can lead to bronchiectasis, those with bronchiectasis are also at higher risk for infections, and have more difficulty in clearing infections than do people without this lung condition.
NTMir — an organization that promotes early diagnosis, improved treatments, and research in bronchiectasis and NTM — is helping patients get a better grasp of what these conditions entail, and how they should be managed together.
“Understanding the underlying risk posed by bronchiectasis is critical in managing NTM lung disease, and understanding the risks associated with bronchiectasis is equally important in mitigating the risk factors in acquiring severe chronic lung infections,” said Leitman.
The site answers questions about how bronchiectasis is treated, explains the benefits of exercise, hydration, and healthy diets in managing the condition, and discusses the tests normally used in diagnosis, among other topics.
According to the website, up to 522,000 people — from children to the elderly — have bronchiectasis in the U.S. Still, this may be an underestimation, despite the use of high resolution chest imaging scans.
“We are honored to work with leading clinicians and researchers around the world including the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and Asia on a continuing basis to add relevant and useful content to the site,” Leitman added.
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