(BPT) - The last few months of the year are known for filling up with tasks and, as a result, it is not uncommon for self-care to fall to the bottom of the list.

But with the start of the new year, for those living with lung conditions such as bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma who experience a lingering cough, shortness of breath and persistent fatigue, Dr. Wael ElMaraachli, pulmonologist at UC San Diego Health, encourages you to speak with your doctor because these symptoms could be caused by a lung infection called Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) lung disease.

Understanding MAC Lung Disease

MAC lung disease can be a serious, progressive and chronic condition that could cause severe, even permanent damage to the lungs. MAC is the most common form of nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease, accounting for more than 80 percent of all NTM lung disease cases in the U.S. Although considered rare, NTM lung disease cases are growing eight 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 symptoms of MAC lung disease are similar to other lung conditions, such as bronchiectasis, COPD or asthma, many who have this disease may not know it for months — or sometimes years. If you think you might be at risk for MAC lung disease and want to learn more, Dr. ElMaraachli offers the following tips to help guide conversations with your doctor.

1. Find out if you have a greater risk of developing MAC lung disease.

Most people who come in contact with MAC bacteria do not develop an infection, but individuals with a history of lung conditions such as bronchiectasis, COPD or asthma, among others, may be more likely to develop MAC lung disease. Those aged 65 and older are also at greater risk for MAC lung disease, and the condition is more common in women than in men.

MAC bacteria are commonly found in the environment and may be in tap water, shower heads, steam from hot tubs, and soil from parks and gardens. These bacteria are also more common along the coastal regions of the U.S.

2. Understand the symptoms.

Common symptoms of MAC lung disease include chronic coughing, feeling tired often and shortness of breath. Because these symptoms are similar to other respiratory conditions, timely diagnosis can be challenging. If these symptoms persist, it may be time to consult your doctor.

3. Speak with your doctor.

If you or a loved one are experiencing recurring symptoms and may be at risk for MAC lung disease, it’s important to speak with your doctor. They can help determine if you should be tested or referred to a specialist, such as a pulmonologist or infectious disease doctor. To help determine if a person has MAC lung disease, a doctor may conduct a physical exam, review a patient’s medical history, collect a sputum (mucus) culture and/or perform a chest CT scan.

4. Know your treatment options.

If you’ve been diagnosed with MAC lung disease, talk to your doctor about whether or not treatment is right for you. If so, you may be put on the guideline-recommended multidrug therapy. This means that you will take more than one medication at the same time. These medicines work together to attack the MAC bacteria in different ways.

If you’ve tried multidrug therapy and did not respond, consider speaking with your doctor about whether or not ARIKAYCE® (amikacin liposome inhalation suspension) plus combination antibacterial treatment may be an option for you.

ARIKAYCE is the first and only FDA-approved treatment designed specifically to treat MAC lung disease as part of a combination antibacterial drug treatment plan in adult patients who did not respond to combination antibacterial drug treatment alone.

This product was approved by FDA using the Limited Population pathway. This means FDA has approved this drug for a limited and specific patient population, and studies on the drug may have only answered focused questions about its safety and effectiveness.

ARIKAYCE is an inhaled antibiotic you take with a nebulizer. It is different from other inhaled antibiotics because the amikacin is contained inside tiny particles called liposomes. When you inhale ARIKAYCE, the liposomes containing the medicine travel into your lungs. Once inside the lungs, they release the medicine to fight the infection.

It’s critical to understand the safety information and potential side effects associated with treatment. Everyone responds differently to treatment, so if you have questions about possible side effects when taking ARIKAYCE, be sure to talk to your doctor.

5. Ask questions and talk to your doctor about tracking progress.

Keep on top of your condition by consulting your doctor with any questions you have about MAC lung disease or your treatment. Some questions to ask include:

  • How does ARIKAYCE work, and is it right for me?
  • How do I take ARIKAYCE, and how often?
  • Are there any side effects I should be aware of?
  • How long does treatment last?
  • How often will you monitor me and how will we track my progress?

ARIKAYCE can cause serious side effects, including:

  • allergic inflammation of the lungs. These respiratory problems may be symptoms of allergic inflammation of the lungs and often come with fever, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and fast breathing
  • coughing up of blood (hemoptysis). Coughing up blood is a serious and common side effect of ARIKAYCE
  • severe breathing problems. Severe breathing problems can be symptoms of bronchospasm. Bronchospasm is a serious and common side effect of ARIKAYCE. Bronchospasm symptoms include shortness of breath, difficult or labored breathing, wheezing, and coughing or chest tightness
  • worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is a serious and common side effect of ARIKAYCE

While using ARIKAYCE, these side effects may become serious enough that treatment in a hospital is needed. Call your healthcare provider or get medical help right away if you have any of these serious side effects while taking ARIKAYCE. Your healthcare provider may ask you to stop using ARIKAYCE for a short period of time or completely stop using ARIKAYCE.

Do not use ARIKAYCE if you are allergic to any aminoglycoside, or any of the ingredients in ARIKAYCE.

Before using ARIKAYCE, tell your healthcare provider about all medical conditions, including if you:

  • have asthma, COPD, shortness of breath, or wheezing (bronchospasm)
  • have been told you have poor lung function
  • have hearing problems, such as ringing in your ears or hearing loss
  • have dizziness or a sense of the room spinning
  • have kidney problems
  • have neuromuscular disease, such as myasthenia gravis
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if ARIKAYCE can harm your unborn baby. ARIKAYCE is in a class of medicines that may be connected with complete deafness in babies at birth. The deafness affects both ears and cannot be changed
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if the medicine in ARIKAYCE passes into your breast milk and if it can harm your baby. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby during treatment with ARIKAYCE

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

ARIKAYCE may cause serious side effects, including:

  • hearing loss or ringing in the ears (ototoxicity). Ototoxicity is a serious and common side effect of ARIKAYCE. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have hearing loss or you hear noises in your ears, such as ringing or hissing. Tell your healthcare provider if you start having problems with balance or dizziness (vertigo)
  • worsening kidney problems (nephrotoxicity). ARIKAYCE is in a class of medicines which may cause worsening kidney problems. Your healthcare provider may do a blood test to check how well your kidneys are working during your treatment with ARIKAYCE
  • worsening muscle weakness (neuromuscular blockade). ARIKAYCE is in a class of medicines which can cause muscle weakness to get worse in people who already have problems with muscle weakness (myasthenia gravis)

The most common side effects of ARIKAYCE include: changes in voice and hoarseness (dysphonia), sore throat, diarrhea, muscle pain, nausea, tiredness (fatigue), fever, vomiting, headache, decreased weight, increased sputum, rash, chest discomfort, or cough during or after a dose of ARIKAYCE, especially in the first month after starting treatment.

These are not all of the possible side effects of ARIKAYCE. Call your doctor or pharmacist for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.

What is ARIKAYCE?

ARIKAYCE is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with refractory (difficult to treat) Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) lung disease as part of a combination antibacterial drug treatment plan (regimen).

It is not known if ARIKAYCE is safe and effective in children younger than 18 years of age.

This product was approved by FDA using the Limited Population pathway. This means FDA has approved this drug for a limited and specific patient population, and studies on the drug may have only answered focused questions about its safety and effectiveness.

Taking care of yourself and understanding how to properly manage your health should be a priority. That is why it is important to discuss any new symptoms you may be experiencing that could point to something more with your doctor to help ensure you’re doing everything you can to stay well.

Sponsored by Insmed Incorporated.

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