Do you drink tap water?
How does the water we drink that goes into our stomach cause a MAC infection in our lungs and possibly more bronchiectasis?
The answer is two-fold: by inefficient swallowing and gastric reflux.
All of us micro-aspirate liquid into our lungs throughout the day. This might be from liquid “going down the wrong pipe” as can happen with swallowing issues, coughing, or “just because.”
Although a certain number of aspirations is considered normal and not a concern for those with healthy immune systems and lungs, this may not be the case for people with impaired airways.
Gastroesophageal reflux is another way bacteria can enter the lungs. Both acid and non-acid gastric refluxate can come up from the stomach and enter the lungs. This liquid can contain bacteria that have not been killed off by our stomach acid and possibly cause infection.
One way to help prevent reflux is to take precautions. These precautions might include:
🦠Raising the head of your bed
🦠After eating, waiting a couple of hours before lying down, doing airway clearance or exercising
🦠Squatting down instead of bending at the waist whenever possible
🦠Losing weight if overweight
🦠Not eating trigger foods
In addition to reducing swallowing issues and GERD, we can also reduce the MAC in our drinking water. Boiling water for 10 minutes, using a LifeStraw pitcher or drinking spring water will greatly reduce this exposure.
If you choose to drink spring water, do not drink from a water cooler as a MAC biofilm might be lining the inside of the machine. The same is true for refrigerator-filtered water and ice and Brita-like charcoal pitchers.
Not everyone with bronchiectasis will get a MAC infection. However, there is about a 10-20% chance one will and the precautions I have laid out can reduce that probability.
Some BE and MAC specialists tell their patients to just live their lives and not try to control bacteria that are everywhere in our environment. Others suggest taking preventive measures. So it is best for those with BE to have this conversation with your medical team and see what they recommend.
Bronchiectasis is a life-long condition and changes can be made over time.
#bronchiectasis #maclungdisease #ntmlungdisease #GERD #lifestraw
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the MAC & Bronchiectasis Support Group.