Yesterday, the 24th of March, every year is marked as World Tuberculosis day. Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that affects mainly the lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis spreads from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes. It is an air borne disease.
From materials I came across during my research online, much effort has been with much progress towards eradicating Tuberculosis. However, it still remains a world concern as shockingly, No country has ever eliminated Tuberculosis. In this post, we’d attempt to play a (minute though) role in stemming the tide of Tuberculosis by bringing to your notice, the risk factors, the causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment, as well as some facts from the World Health Organization about Tuberculosis as you read on.
RISK FACTORS FOR CONTRACTING TUBERCULOSIS
Tuberculosis can be contracted by anyone, but risk of the disease can be increased by certain factors which include:
⭐ A Weakened immune system with low resistance which cannot successfully mount a defense again Tuberculosis bacteria. The immunity may be weakened by certain diseases like HIV/AIDS, Diabetes, certain cancers, end stage kidney disease (Read more about these diseases in our Health Tips Section >>>www.medigist.wordpress.com/category/health-tips). Also drugs and treatments like chemotherapy can weaken the immune system.
⭐ Wide international travels especially to countries and regions with high tuberculosis rates like Sub-Saharan Africa(sigh), India, China, Mexico, Islands of South East Asia, and parts of the former USSR.
⭐Poverty, low income, remote habitation, leads to lack of the medical care and knowledge needed to prevent, diagnose and treat Tuberculosis.
⭐Substance abuse, long-term alcohol or drug use weakens the immune system and makes one more vulnerable to tuberculosis.
⭐Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of getting TB and dying of it because of the adverse effects of smoking on the lungs
⭐ Working in an Health care organization, regular contact with people who are ill increases the chances of exposure to TB bacteria. However, this should not be a discouragement to we Medics and Paramedics in the embryo because wearing a mask and frequent hand-washing greatly reduce the risk.
⭐Working or living in residential care facilities like prisons, immigration centers or nursing homes puts one at risk of tuberculosis. This’s because the risk of the disease is higher anywhere there is overcrowding and poor ventilation.
⭐ Refugees living in camps or shelters are at especially high risks of Tuberculosis because of poor nutrition and ill health and the crowded, unsanitary conditions.
⭐Very young age.
CAUSE OF TUBERCULOSIS
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium mycobacterium Tuberculosis, that spreads from person to person via very tiny droplets released into the air. This usually happens when someone with the untreated, active form of tuberculosis coughs, speaks, sneezes, spits, laughs or sings.
Tuberculosis is contagious, but not easy to catch. It’s much more likely to be contracted from someone you live with or work with than from a stranger. Most people with active TB who’ve had appropriate drug treatment for at least two weeks are no longer contagious.
Tuberculosis has also been linked to HIV since the 1980s as their progression seems to go hand in hand. According to WHO “A person living with HIV /AIDS is 20-30 times more likely to develop active TB.”
HIV Infection suppresses the immune system, making it difficult for the body to control TB bacteria. Hence, people with HIV are many times more likely to get TB and to progress from latent to active disease than are people who aren’t HIV positive. Again from WHO “TB is the highest killer of people living with HIV”
There’s also a strain of the bacterium that makes Tuberculosis difficult to curtail. This is the drug resistant Tuberculosis. It appears when an antibiotic fails to kill every of the bacteria it targets. “Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) does not respond to standard treatments and is difficult and costly to treat” ,says WHO.
PREVENTION OF TUBERCULOSIS
According to WHO, “…tuberculosis is curable and preventable.”
The following precautions may be taken to reduce the risk of being infected by tuberculosis:
✅ Washing of hands, especially after being around people with chronic coughs. The hands may contain the infectious substance that causes TB.
✅Don’t shake the hand of someone who has been coughing, wave instead…😁
✅ Wear a face mask. A modified and special, high-micro filtration mask will help keep the TB bacilli from attacking your respiratory system.
✅During dry months, try to avoid staying in the house for long periods with only recycled air.
✅Consider having a vaccination.
✅Try to take a TB skin test which is available at most community clinics, and at health fairs that are offered at shopping malls and other centers.
✅If you are sensitive to the TB skin test, have a chest X-ray done to detect clinical signs of TB in your lungs.
✅Avoid being too close to a coughing person. You can never know for sure if you are being exposed to TB, but you reduce the risk of being infected if you stay away from the bacilli being spewed about when people cough and sneeze.
✅Breathing clean air is always a good idea.
✅Always remember to eat a healthy diet rich in minerals, calcium, protein, and fiber and vitamins.
TYPES AND SYMPTOMS OF TUBERCULOSIS
The body may harbor the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, but the immune system usually prevents one from becoming sick. As a result, doctors differentiate TB into two:
1👆Latent Tuberculosis where there is a TB infection, but the bacteria remains in the body in an inactive state and causes no symptoms. Latent TB, also known as inactive TB or TB infection, isn’t contagious. Nonetheless, it can turn into active TB, so treatment is important for the person with latent TB to help control the spread of TB in general. It is estimated that one-third of the world’s population has latent TB.
2✌Active Tuberculosis, which makes one sick and can spread to others. It may occur in the first few weeks after infection with the TB bacteria, or it might occur years later.
Signs and symptoms of active TB include; Cough, Loss of appetite, Unintentional weight loss, Fatigue, Fever, Night sweats, Chills, etc.
Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs. Signs and symptoms of TB of the lungs include:
•Coughing up blood or sputum
•Persistent coughing lasting three or more weeks
•Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
Tuberculosis also affects other parts of the body, including the kidneys, spine or brain. When TB occurs outside the lungs, signs and symptoms vary according to the organs involved. For example, tuberculosis of the spine may give back pain, and tuberculosis in the kidneys might cause blood in the urine.
A doctor should be consulted if the following is noticed; fever, unexplained weight loss, drenching night sweats or a persistent cough. These are often signs of TB, but they can also result from other medical problems. The doctor can perform tests to help determine the cause.
“About 56 million TB patients have been successfully treated since 1995 worldwide”-WHO.
Cheif Editor, Medigist Online Journal.
Award winning poet, writer, campus journalist, medical student. Jack of all trades, master of most. “It is good to be zealous in a good thing”
References and further reading:
We’ve done our own part and informed you, do your own part and inform others. Together, we can!
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