NTM (nontuberculous mycobacterial lung disease) is still considered rare, but cases are growing 8 percent each year. In 2018, it is estimated that 75,000–105,000 patients were diagnosed with NTM lung disease in the U.S. Since awareness of NTM lung disease is limited and the symptoms of NTM lung disease, like chronic coughing, feeling tired often and shortness of breath, are similar to other lung conditions, many people who have it may not even know it for months or sometimes years.
(BPT) - Having a friend or loved one with a chronic and progressive condition teaches you many things: patience, understanding and adapting to lifestyle changes after diagnosis. But for Mary, supporting her friend, Barbara, living with a serious lung condition called nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease taught her the importance of listening.
While taking weekly walks together, Mary first noticed Barbara was experiencing respiratory symptoms, such as coughing fits and getting tired very easily. Barbara’s symptoms continued for two years, and Mary later found out that Barbara was living with NTM lung disease — a serious and progressive condition caused by bacteria that can lead to lung damage and respiratory symptoms.
From speaking with Barbara, she realized that while Barbara was relieved to have an explanation for her symptoms, she also felt overwhelmed and scared by her new diagnosis.
Mary recalls, “As her friend, I was upset that she had to face this health issue and wanted to know how I could help. I realized the best way I could show Barbara my support was to ‘walk with her’ and let her know she wasn’t alone.”
About NTM Lung Disease
NTM bacteria are common in the environment and can be found in tap water, showerheads, steam from hot tubs, and soil from parks and gardens. While everyone comes into contact with NTM bacteria during their daily lives, most people do not develop NTM lung disease because their lungs are healthy enough to clear the bacteria. However, people with a history of lung conditions, like bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, are more likely to develop NTM lung disease because the damage from these conditions can make it easier for NTM to infect their lungs.
NTM lung disease is considered rare, but cases are growing 8 percent each year. In 2018, it is estimated that 75,000–105,000 patients were diagnosed with NTM lung disease in the U.S. Since awareness of NTM lung disease is limited and the symptoms of NTM lung disease, like chronic coughing, feeling tired often and shortness of breath, are similar to other lung conditions, many people who have it may not even know it for months or sometimes years.
Providing Encouragement and Understanding
Following an NTM lung disease diagnosis, patients may have a hard time coping with the impact the disease can have on their lifestyle. Emotional support from family and friends is crucial to help patients navigate these new challenges.
After learning about Barbara’s diagnosis, Mary encouraged her to speak about the tests she was undergoing and treatment she was taking as well as how she was feeling. Mary was also there to support Barbara through some of the lifestyle changes that she was making to help manage her condition — whether it was hearing about the adjustments she made when traveling or ways to help limit her exposure to NTM bacteria at home.
Mary also understood that keeping up weekly walks helped Barbara physically and emotionally. She made sure that they stuck to their routine and made adjustments whenever necessary, such as walking for shorter distances or slowing down their pace based on how Barbara was feeling.
“Barbara’s diagnosis made our friendship stronger because she knew she could confide in me and receive the support and reassurance she needed — even if that just meant listening,” Mary shares. “While everyone’s experience with NTM lung disease is different, sometimes knowing there is someone willing to listen to what you’re going through can make a world of difference.”
Like many other loved ones of NTM lung disease patients, Mary had never heard about the condition before Barbara’s diagnosis. She let Barbara be her teacher and learned a lot about the condition through her experience. Today, she’s more informed about NTM lung disease and can be a better source of guidance and support for Barbara.
There are also several online patient resources available to learn more about NTM lung disease, such as the Voices of NTM Lung Disease eMagazine on AboutNTM.com, which provides information on living with and managing NTM lung disease through first-person stories from different members of the community, like Barbara and Mary. On AboutNTM.com, you can also access more information on how to join support groups to connect with others who have NTM lung disease, and how to sign up to receive helpful resources.
Sponsored by Insmed Incorporated.
Not all strokes can be prevented, but making healthy lifestyle choices, like exercising, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight and treating conditions such as high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure can help reduce your risk of another one. Consider following these tips to achieve ideal health.
Don't Let Stroke Strike Twice
(Family Features) Not all strokes can be prevented, but making healthy lifestyle choices, like exercising, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight and treating conditions such as high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure can help reduce your risk of another one.
While there are about 7.2 million stroke survivors in the United States, people who have had a stroke are at high risk of having another one. In fact, about one in every four stroke survivors will have a second one.
Efforts like Together to End Stroke, an American Stroke Association initiative, nationally sponsored by Bayer Aspirin, work to educate stroke survivors and caregivers about how they can avoid a second occurrence.
Because the consequences of a second stroke can be more detrimental than the first, it’s important to recognize the signs, which come on suddenly, and act quickly. An easy way to remember the most common warning signs is the acronym F.A.S.T., (F – face drooping, A – arm weakness, S – speech difficulty, T – time to call 911).
Talk to your doctor about medications that may help you with your stroke prevention efforts. For example, taking aspirin regularly or other blood clot prevention medications can help reduce the risk of another ischemic stroke.
Consider following the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s “Life's Simple 7” to achieve ideal health:
Don't smoke. Smoking puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Quitting is one of the best things you can do to improve your health and add years to your life. You’re more likely to quit for good if you prepare for your last cigarette and the cravings, urges and feelings that come with quitting.
Eat a healthy diet. Healthy eating starts with simple, healthy food choices. You don’t need to stop eating your favorite meals, just use substitutions to make them healthier. Learn what to look for at the grocery store, restaurants, your workplace and other eating occasions so you can confidently make healthy, delicious choices whenever and wherever you eat.
Maintain a healthy weight. The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight go beyond improved energy and smaller clothing sizes. By losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, you can also reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. There’s no trick to losing weight and keeping it off, but the majority of successful people modify their eating habits and increase physical activity.
Control cholesterol. Having large amounts of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, in the blood can cause build up and blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Reducing your fat intake, especially trans fats, often found in fried foods and baked goods, can help reduce your cholesterol. Adding more foods with omega-3 fatty acids like fish and nuts, as well as soluble fiber and whey protein, helps in managing cholesterol.
Manage blood pressure. Nothing causes more strokes than uncontrolled high blood pressure. Of the 116.4 million people in the United States who have high blood pressure, fewer than half have it under control, putting them at increased risk of stroke. Lowering your blood pressure by 20 points could cut your risk of dying from stroke by half.
Control blood sugar. By managing your diabetes and working with your health care team, you may reduce your risk of stroke. Every two minutes, an adult with diabetes in the United States is hospitalized for stroke. At age 60, someone with type 2 diabetes and a history of stroke may have a life expectancy that is 12 years shorter than someone without both conditions.
For more information on how to prevent stroke, and a complete list of warning signs, visit strokeassociation.org/americanstrokemonth.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
American Stroke Association
(BPT) - Persistent dry cough. Fatigue. Shortness of breath. These symptoms are sometimes associated with a passing virus, especially during the peak of cold and flu season. Coughs can last an average of 18 days; however, if your dry cough is still lingering after two months, another condition, such as pulmonary fibrosis, might be the cause.
“There are more than 50,000 new cases of pulmonary fibrosis diagnosed every year, yet many patients have never heard of it prior to their diagnosis,” said William T. Schmidt, president and CEO of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF). “Some individuals with the disease may be first misdiagnosed with pneumonia, bronchitis or asthma, which is why it is imperative we continue to raise awareness about the disease, common symptoms and risk factors.”
What is pulmonary fibrosis?
While the condition is largely unknown, more than 200,000 Americans are living with pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive, debilitating lung disease. In simple terms, pulmonary fibrosis is scarring in the lungs that, over time, can destroy the normal lung and make it hard for oxygen to get into the blood.
Currently, there is no cure once scarring has begun, but the PFF is mobilizing people and resources to provide access to high-quality care, as well as leading research for a cure so individuals with pulmonary fibrosis will live longer, healthier lives.
What are the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis?
There are three main symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis — shortness of breath, a dry, hacking cough and fatigue. If you have two or more of these lingering symptoms, they should be taken seriously and you should speak with your physician.
“I started off with a slight, dry cough. I didn’t know what it was,” said Dot Delarosa, a pulmonary fibrosis patient who received a life-saving lung transplant in 2010. “I would talk and I would cough, talk and cough. To me, this was my normal.”
While anyone can develop pulmonary fibrosis, it is more likely to occur in those 60 years and older with a history of smoking, putting hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk for the disease. Other risk factors include: a family history of pulmonary fibrosis; prior or current use of certain medications such as chemotherapy and amiodarone; a history of radiation treatment to the chest; environmental and occupational exposures including indoor mold, birds or asbestos; and a previous diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disease.
How do I find out if I have pulmonary fibrosis?
Although many of these symptoms are seen with more common diseases such as COPD, asthma and heart disease, it is important to consider pulmonary fibrosis. If you have symptoms or risk factors, the first step is to speak with your healthcare provider. Early diagnosis is key to maximizing treatment options. With a lesser known disease like pulmonary fibrosis, advocating for your health is crucial. To help you start that conversation with your doctor, a downloadable Pulmonary Fibrosis Risk List is available at AboutPF.org.
To be diagnosed, you may need further testing after a thorough physical exam with your physician. Testing to help facilitate a clear diagnosis may include pulmonary function testing and/or high-resolution computed tomography.
If further action needs to be taken, you can find a local pulmonologist through the PFF Care Center Network, which includes centers with experience in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.
For more information or to find a pulmonologist near you, visit AboutPF.org.
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