MAC lung disease is a serious infection caused by a group of bacteria called Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC). This infection can be deadly and may cause permanent damage to your lungs. MAC is one of a large group of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) and is the most common cause of NTM lung disease in the U.S. Even with treatment, MAC lung disease can be deadly. However, with the right care, you can improve your prognosis and possibly avoid long-term damage to your lungs.
MAC organisms are common in soil and water and are easily inhaled during daily activities. Most of the time they cause no harm, but they can cause infection in groups with certain risk factors. These groups include people living with lung diseases such as bronchiectasis and COPD, and people with a weakened immune system because of an autoimmune disorder or medical treatment such as drugs that compromise immunity. Postmenopausal women and people over 65 years old are also more likely to develop MAC lung disease than the general public.
There are three main types of MAC infections
MAC Lung disease is not contagious
More than 86,000 Americans have some type of infection
Treatment for MAC Lung Disease typically lasts 12 months
If you have any of the symptoms of MAC lung disease, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history. Your doctor may also order tests to help diagnose the infection, including a chest x-ray, sputum culture, and blood tests.
The treatment for MAC lung disease will vary depending on your individual situation. Treatment usually involves taking antibiotics for an extended period of time. This can help clear up the infection and improve your breathing. In some cases, you may also need to be hospitalized for treatment. In extreme cases, a lung transplant may be necessary.
The symptoms of MAC lung disease can vary from person to person. Some people may experience a mild, cold-like illness, while others may develop a more serious infection that can cause pneumonia-like symptoms, such as coughing and chest pain. You may also have trouble breathing, and experience weight loss and fatigue. In some cases, people with MAC lung disease can develop blood clots in their lungs, which can be life-threatening.
Pulmonary MAC infection is the most common type of MAC infection. This type affects your lungs and respiratory system. Pulmonary MAC often causes no symptoms until the disease is quite advanced. When symptoms do occur, they may include coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid breathing (tachypnea), and wheezing. You may also have a fever and feel generally ill. People with pulmonary MAC are at high risk for developing complications such as bronchiectasis (a condition that causes widened airways in the lungs) and pneumonia.
Disseminated MAC infection is the second most common type of MAC infection. This type spreads throughout your body through your bloodstream and most commonly affects people with advanced AIDS and other types of immunocompromised conditions. People with disseminated MAC may have no symptoms or only very mild symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include fever, night sweats, weight loss, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. Disseminated MAC can spread to any part of your body, including your brain, liver, and bones.
MAC-associated lymphadenitis is a rare type of MAC infection that mainly affects healthy children. It causes swollen lymph nodes, usually in the neck. Lymphadenitis is an inflammation of the lymph nodes. Symptoms may include fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and a general feeling of illness. MAC-associated lymphadenitis is usually treated with antibiotics.
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