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Ask Dr. Arun Phophalia Your Own Question
Dr. Arun Phophalia
Dr. Arun Phophalia, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 35431
Experience:  MBBS, MS (General Surgery), Fellowship in Sports Medicine
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I have Mycobacterium Avium intracellular disease in my

Customer Question

I have Mycobacterium Avium intracellular disease in my lungs, one of the lungs have been removed because of large cavitary lesions. I have been told I will have this disease forever. It never truly goes away. It can be dormant but exposure can cause another infection period and I could get sick again. I have been on the meds for this for 2 1/2 years and the doctor said I will probably have to be on maintenance meds for life. Do you agree with the doctor's, that this stays with me for my life.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Arun Phophalia replied 9 years ago.


Do you have any diseases which decreases your immunity or body resistance (immunocompromised)?

Dr. Arun

Customer: replied 9 years ago.

No, I don't have aids.:) I have advanced COPD, many pnuemonias and bronchitis for a good number of years. I also had Valley fever in 1990.

Thanks for your help.


Expert:  Dr. Arun Phophalia replied 9 years ago.

Hello Mary,

Greetings again.

Thanks for your reply.

No I don't agree that you have to take the medicine for the life long, as this is treatable infection and can be eradicated.

Since the resistance to the medications is common for this bacteria, keeping you on streptomycin, for 6-12 weeks (injectable) should be considered. If Amikacin and clarithromycin have not been tried earlier, they can be given later on after the course of streptomycin.

You are welcome.

Please feel free for your follow up questions.

Dr. Arun

Customer: replied 9 years ago.

The pulmonologist said I may not have to be on meds for my life but the bacteria stays dormant in the cavities in the lung. Once I get a negative on sputum or another negative bronchoscopy I can stop meds. He said I could be fine for a few years and then bam I am active again with the bacteria causing infectious damage further.

He said it never completely goes away. Is this correct?

Expert:  Dr. Arun Phophalia replied 9 years ago.

Hi Mary,

Pulmonolgist is right that bacteria can stay in the cavities and since cavities have very precarious blood supply or no blood supply the medications do not reach there and they survive. The bacteria usually remain dormant and there is a theoretical chance that they can reactivate but that reactivation only occur when there is reason for the body immunity going down. The decrease in immunity can occur usually in following cases;

1) Prolonged fever or any life threatening infection

2) Use of steroids

3) Immunomodulatory drugs

4) Chemotherapy

So, a good health will prevent the recurrence.

Dr. Arun