(MAC/MAI) Mycobacterium Avium Complex Pulmonary Disease: Join us

Posted by Katherine, Alumni Mentor @katemn, Nov 21, 2011

I am new to Mayo online .. I was hoping to find others with .. MYCOBACTERIUM AVIUM COMPLEX PULMONARY DISEASE (MAC/MAI) and/or BRONCHIECTASIS. I found only 1 thread on mycobacterium accidently under the catagory "Lungs". I'm hoping by starting a subject matter directly related to MYCOBACTERIUM AVIUM COMPLEX PULMONARY DISEASE (MAC/MAI) I may find others out there!

I was diagnosed by a sputum culture August 2007 (but the culture result was accidentally misfiled until 2008!) with MYCOBACTERIUM AVIUM COMPLEX PULMONARY DISEASE (MAC/MAI) and BRONCHIECTASIS. I am now on 5 antibiotics. Working with Dr. Timothy Aksamit at Rochester Mayo Clinic .. he is a saint to have put up with me this long! I was terrified of the treatment . started the first antibiotic September 3, 2011 ... am now on all 5 antibiotics for 18 mos to 2 years. Am delighted at the very bearable side effects!

I wrote on the 1 thread I found: If you google NON-TUBERCULOUS MYCOBACTERIUM AVIUM COMPLEX PULMONARY DISEASE (MAC/MAI) you will learn a LOT about the disease. But PLEASE do NOT get scared about all the things you read .. that is what I did and nearly refused to do the treatment until after a 2nd Micomacterium was discovered! Educate yourself for "due diligence" .. but take it all with a grain of salt .. you are NOT necessarily going to have all the terrible side effects of the antibiotics! Good luck to you!

January 2017 Update

One of our great Connect Members .. @Paula_MAC2007  .. had a wonderfully helpful idea that I wanted to share! Her idea .. as you read through the pages to gather information on our shared disease of MAC you can develop a personal "file cabinet" for future reference without the necessity of reading all the pages again!

If you have the "MS Word" program on your computer:
- Document Title Example:  Mayo Clinic Connect MAI/MAC Information
- Then develop different categories that make sense to you such as:  Heath Aids .. Videos .. Healthy Living .. Positive Thinking .. Baseline Testing and Regular Testing .. Antibiotics ..
Tips for
- As you read the pages .. copy/paste/save things of interest into that MS Word document under your preferred categories for future reference.

Then as you want to refer back to something in the future .. YEAH!  You have now created your own personal "file cabinet" on MAC/MAI!  Go to it!

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the MAC & Bronchiectasis Support Group.


Hello, Kate

What a coincidence that my first name is Katherine/Kathy. I was just diagnosed with MAC, found out via a phone call from my Mayo doctor last night. I have been coughing for over 14 months and I just kept trying to get someone to tell me why..... Now that I have the diagnosis, what do I do? My first reaction was to try to get more information and that is how I stumbled across your posting. My doctor, Dr. Mullen at Mayo in Rochester, is a very nice man and he explained that some of the side effects of the treatment can be worse than the disease. So, I rejected the idea. When I saw your post saying that the reality may not be as bad as the hype, it gives me a different perspective. Would you be willing to share more of your experience with me? The doctors can only tell you what the books tell them unless they have had a patient who has gone through the process. Even then, different folks can have differing reactions. I am a 58 year old, recently retired (in part due to the coughing with the embarrassing results), I am overweight so the shortness of breath was attributed to that.....

Thank you, Kathy

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Kate: How are you doing? I have MAC as well.


Local South Florida pulmonologist has confirmed MAC. Treatment to be discussed at next doctor's visit. Internet research has me worried about possible side effects affecting my ablity to get through work week & be care giver to sick husband. Am wondering if I should seek top notch specialist in local medical/university centers. A penny for your thoughts... Have Rheumatoid Arthritis & have been taken off 9 yr. treatment of Humira which is suspected of having compromised my already weak immune system. Any R.A./MAC patients out there?

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I have the same problem. I have been able to endure so far. How are you doing?


I would love to add to this discussion or chat with either of you. I was diagnosed with this disease in 2008. I was on 3200mlg of high powered antibiotics for a year. I recovered completely. I am having some issues now and wondering how each of you are doing.

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I thought I recovered and after 6 months its back. How are you doing?


I would love to add to this discussion or chat with either of you. I was diagnosed with this disease in 2008. I was on 3200mlg of high powered antibiotics for a year. I recovered completely. I am having some issues now and wondering how each of you are doing.

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How are you doing Heather. I have MAC as well. I thought I was cured but after six months I am going to a new doctor. Yuck. I feel very tired most days. I want to find somewhere to go that I can be cured. I want to live a wonderful life. How are you doing?


I was diagnosed with MAC in Feb 2008 (after having intermittent symptoms for 3 years that got progressively worse). For 4 yrs, 3 months (Feb 2008 - April 2012), I was on the 3 standard drugs for MAC . I had some side effects from the drugs but gradually they went away or I learned how to deal with them. If my routine got out of whack (like on vacation) I suffered.

Over the years, I grew to feel like my old self - although as a high energy person, I was somewhat sluggish from the medication. Last April, I negotiated with my pulmonologist to go off the drugs. What a relief! Was like a weight had been lifted . . . I felt much lighter and less sluggish. While my MAC was not gone, my lesions had shrunk over the years of antibiotics. I considered the MAC as hibernating or resting!

Eight months later (December 2012) I began experiencing the cough (which at times results in spasms) and tiredness. Since Feb, I have been on two different antibiotics from my Internist - to rule out a severe sinus infection. No dice! Yesterday (March 2013) I saw my pulmonologist who, before assuming it is MAC and resuming the meds, wants to do a lung lavage and CT scan. Will do this within the next two weeks.

Incidentally, my Internist did a lot of blood workup recently and my Vitamin D is very low. Am now taking 50,000 IU for 12 weeks and then repeat the tests. My pulmonologist yesterday mentioned there is some connection between Vitamin D and lung issues but it's not real concrete yet.

So my MAC appears to no longer be 'resting'.

I will follow this blog with great interest. I live in Wisconsin, in the part of the upper Midwest where MAC is found. Yet MAC is not found in some other Great Lake states. Sure is a mystery.


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How are you doing Paula? I have MAC also. I have had low Vit D as well. It is better now. But my B6 is low now. So I am taking B6. I was in remission for 6 mon but it is back. I am in Indiana. I am looking for a doctor that is knowledgeable about this disease have you had any luck?


I was dx'd with MAC in 1998. During the diagnosis process I was subsequently infected with another more serious infection during a bronch.
I was on 3 to 6 antibiotics for 8 years. After 2 years I no longer tested positive (sputum) for the MAC.

After surgery to remove the lobe with the other, more serious infection, I have neither.

Good nutrition, daily EXCERCISE via workouts on my tread mill to keep lungs clear, have been key. Basically, I never let it interfere with my life. Yes, sometimes I was tired particularly after my morning 'cocktail' of meds, but my husband was good at gently coaxing me on, and I would eventually get over the 'hump' and enjoy an active day.

Also key, get an adjustable bed. They are expensive, but necessary so that you don't sleep flat, I waited years, and found I should have followed my Dr.s instructions immediately. Also, eat light at night.

but really, the huffing, puffing excersize 4 days a week, keeps the lungs clear and seems to have been (and still is) my biggest help other than the meds.

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JS you are an inspiration. Who is your doctor and where do you live? I live in Indiana. I am looking for a knowledgeable doctor. Praise God!!!


I found this discussion while researching side effects for the meds prescribed for MAC, and possible ways to tolerate them.
I was diagnosed in March 2013 after suffering with a cough for approximately 18 months. When I started coughing up a little blood occasionally, I went to my GP and he sent me across the hall to a pulmonologist. After several CT scans and blood tests and finally a bronchoscopy he determined it was MAC. I started the meds about 3 weeks ago and am very uncomfortable the 3 days a week I take them. I had to stop taking the clarithromycin because it made me break out in a rash. I can't imagine taking these meds for the next year or more!! I'm sensitive to most meds anyway, and this prescription makes me feel worse than the cough. Has anyone really gotten used to the side effects? Normally I'm a very healthy 56 yr old woman, vegetarian, work out 3-4 times a week and eat a lot of fruits, veggies and yogurt. Any suggestions on how to cope with the side effects is appreciated. *B

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awesome. are you still doing well?


Hello my comrades with MAC. I am Active Duty military and frustrated with my limited access to answers about my infection.

I had a >21mm PPD in 2011 along with gross reading CT Scans and misread chest x-rays. For three months in 2011 I was treated for Latent Tuberculosis then released from treatment after I demanded a QuantiFERON TB test which came back negative for TB.

In 2014, my body finally deteriorated to the point that my neurologist addressed my persistent cough and ordered an AFB sputum culture – Positive for Mycobacterium avium. My doctors act as if they have never seen the manifestation of this infection. My CT Scans have revealed “reticulondular, interstitial, pleuroparenchymal opacities in both lung apices” and x-rays range in readings from “mild, bilateral nodular changes in the lung apices” and “biapical pleural thickening”, to “the lungs are normal in appearance without evidence of active disease”. It seems that “normal” was much easier to deal with than the potential of missing the infection back in 2011.

I am currently on 2 antibiotics (azitrthromycin 500mg 3xs a week and rifampin 600mg 3xs a week) and have been since FEB 2015, yet sputum cultures continue to come back Postive.

Has anybody out there had AFB cultures to determine if the MAC is in their Blood & Urine?

Had anybody out there had their M. avium subspecies identified?

To aggravate matters more, I am told that the MAC is not in my lungs. My doctors are thinking of discontinuing the “toxic” antibiotic treatment. Over the past three years I have developed SVT, Raynaud’s disease, migraines, levido reticularis, vulvudynia, unspecified diffuse connective tissue disease and now I have left-side-facial muscle pain/droop and similar pain/swelling/immobility in my right hand.

I have asked the Military to Please send me to see Dr. Timothy Aksamit at the Mayo Clinic.

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Kate: Where is Dr. Aksamit? I need a good doctor for my mac


I have used our similar local "compound" for geographic tongue. So sorry you got the thrush. It is a problem with the inhalers. I only use mine when really needed- Symbicort or Spiriva. I have found that they can help clear up my airways a bit after I have just done my own " clearing". Right now I am taking extra meds as I got shingles over the weekend. I am lucky it is not a big, bad case, as I had the vaccine. But still, not a lot of fun!
I really appreciate your forum and all the work you must do! Have a good night!

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@maryjo2sell Maryjo, what a GREAT idea! When I receive my Aerobika I am absolutely going to watch that youtube video AND with your permission I am going to add this to my "File Cabinet' to let newcomers know about it! We are helping each other day by day! We may not have CF .. but our lung issues are similar enough that it is wonderful that you found this. Funny .. but I have learned how to do so many things from youtube .. didn't even THINK of checking there for something like this .. thanks! In the future I may check out the RC Cornet .. let us know how it works for you! Hugs! Katherine

Airway Clearance Methods .. : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wn5o5AgD9m0


I would love to add to this discussion or chat with either of you. I was diagnosed with this disease in 2008. I was on 3200mlg of high powered antibiotics for a year. I recovered completely. I am having some issues now and wondering how each of you are doing.

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Hi and welcome @donut I am doing ok, been on the 3 meds for nealy 2 years but was put on them 3x week(18mths) rather than daily(I have cavities) which I am now on along with Amakacin inhaled, have a ct scan next month. How long were you on the 3 meds before they said you were MAC free, and did you stay on the meds for a further 12 months?

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