A nontuberculous mycobacterial infection is a chronic condition that takes a year or longer to treat. During that time, a team of NYU Langone doctors—which may include a pulmonologist, or lung specialist, an infectious disease specialist, and a physical therapist—cares for you. Typically, people meet with their team every two to four weeks for follow-up care.
Our doctors use monthly blood tests to monitor you for complications of long-term antibiotic use, such as liver problems or damage to the kidneys. They also perform a physical examination to check for other complications, such as hearing or vision loss. Your doctor reviews with you the risks and benefits of treatment.
Doctors take monthly sputum cultures while you’re on medication to check for the presence of mycobacteria and prevent progressive injury to the lung tissue. Even after you finish treatment, a doctor performs periodic sputum cultures to ensure that the infection is gone.
A doctor typically measures your lung function four times a year through tests such as a respiratory examination, spirometry tests, and exercise testing, both during treatment and afterward. He or she also takes CT scans of the lungs, usually once each year, to monitor recovery.
Follow-up care continues annually even after people have completed a course of treatment, as mycobacterial disease can recur even years later. Because the lungs may be damaged from the infection, some people may also require respiratory therapies, such as breathing devices or exercises, for the rest of their lives.
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