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5 Things You Need to Know About Tuberculosis

Life is an admixture of smiles, hardship, sobs, with hardship predominating. And while it is hard enough for a healthy human bouncing through this wonky world, it is  harder  for those who are hosts to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the tiny bug  that causes Tuberculosis (TB).

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease, which is ubiquitous worldwide. However, the burden is higher in developing countries. As a matter of fact, eight countries account for  two-third of total TB cases worldwide. I am sure you would quit reading this article, if I told you Nigeria was not one of them.

According to WHO, about one-quarter of the world’s population has latent TB(people infected with mycobacterium tuberculosis but yet to manifest the disease). This number would be grimmer if we considered our environment in isolation.

In 2018, 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis(TB) worldwide. Most of whom were men. Women played their supportive roles and children were carried along.

This year’s world TB day was tagged “It’s Time”. Time to end this scourge from  human civilization. Time to end TB. As daring a scheme as that might be, I am afraid WHO might just be building a castle in the air, given the preparedness of our  beloved country.

Because  there  is work to do. And the foundation upon which this work is built is public enlightenment. Hence this article.

Here are five things you need to know about TB

Tuberculosis is not limited to the lungs

TB can affect any part of the body. There’s TB of the spine, TB of the brain(TB meningitis), TB of the kidneys and among others. However, TB has predilection for the lungs as it accounts for 70% of  all  TB cases.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of TB depend on which organ of the body that is affected. A patient with renal (kidney) TB would manifest symptoms like low back/loin pain, fever, difficulty with passing out urine and frequent urination. Whereas a patient with TB meningitis (TB of the brain)may manifest signs such as  altered mental state, and fever.

However, If you noticed someone around you had been coughing for more than two weeks, ask the  person politely the following questions: Do you sweat a lot at night? Do you have fever? Have you lost weight recently?

If YES to at least two, then we have pulmonary TB(TB of the lungs) to deal with until proven otherwise. Knowing the symptoms of pulmonary TB is essential as it is the commonest form of TB not to mention it is the most contagious.

One should also pay attention to non specific symptoms like malaise, fatigue, anorexia. They help to buttress our suspicion of TB.

Tuberculosis is preventable

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is transmitted from person to person through inhalation of droplets. One’s chances of contracting TB are low if one stays away from overcrowded places.

Good nutrition  provides the body with the necessary vitamins and minerals that boost the immune system hence defends the body against all invaders including mycobacterium tuberculosis. A weak immune system means mycobacteria can find expression upon invasion, plus latent TB can become active.

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine is not efficacious in adults, nonetheless it can be a lifesaver for our little ones. Hence it is central to prevention of Tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis is curable

With proper prescription and maximum adherence cure rate is as high as 95-97% for persons with drug susceptible TB. However the treatment can be long usually  six months. For those with TB of the spine and TB meningitis, it is one year.

Complications of TB

Complications of TB depend on the part of the body affected. There could be lung collapse if the lungs are affected. There could be arthritis if the joints are affected. There could be back pain if the spine is affected.

There could be meningitis if the brain is affected. And many more. To prevent complications, seek medical attention and be adherent to your Doctor’s advice.

For all those who are currently suffering from Tuberculosis, I have one thing to tell you: this too shall pass. The blank stare you get when you unavoidably cough in public, the bony prominences all over your body, the depression that chaperones TB and the stigma you may have experienced.

Author Bio:

Raphael Enyo Daniel Alpha, a 5th-year medical student at University of Ibadan. He is a health writer who is passionate about Child and Maternal health and preventive medicine.

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