Tuberculosis Decoded [Tuberculosis Awareness Month]
Tuberculosis kills two people every three minutes in India. Approximately 80% of the Indian population is exposed to the TB bacilli by the time they turn 20. Today, as part of our efforts to increase awareness about TB during Tuberculosis Awareness Month 2012, we have detailed the complications, risk factors and related information on Tuberculosis.
With expert inputs from Dr. R K Mani, Director- Department of Pulmonology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon
Understanding Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is an endemic in India and is spread across socio-economic division. It is an infection caused by germ 'Mycobacterium tuberculosis'. Though this infection most commonly occurs in lungs it sometimes affects other parts of the body like the spine, called spinal tuberculosis or Pott's spine.
Does TB affect other body parts? It is a myth that TB only affects the lungs. It can also affect the brain, spinal cord, intestines, eyes, covering of the heart, bones & joints, stomach etc.
Factors responsible for TB
- When immunity is compromised due to an irregular lifestyle and unhealthy habits
- Alcohol and smoking
- An unbalanced diet (includes malnourishment & obesity)
- Immuno-suppressants like steroids
- Diabetes and HIV-AIDS
Common symptoms of TB
- Lack of appetite
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent cough for two weeks or more
- Persistent fever – any grade, be it low or high – for two weeks or more
- Blood in sputum
Breaking myths related to TB
- Myth: It is a poor man’s disease. Fact: In reality, TB has broken all barriers and can affect anyone irrespective of their socio- financial background and living conditions.
- Myth: It can be fatal. Fact: If a patient follows the complete treatment module, then the disease is fully curable.
- Myth: TB is contagious and anyone who comes in contact with a patient can contract it. Fact: Only pulmonary or lung TB is infectious.
- Myth: BCG vaccine can prevent TB. Fact: The vaccine only prevents Meningitis in childhood and does not offer any prevention to adults from TB.
- Moderate (healthy levels of) alcohol consumption and no smoking.
- Exercise helps in building immunity.
- Healthy hygiene habits plays a vital role in prevention.
- Balanced diet- a meal should include pulses, legumes, seasonal fruits, green and fresh vegetables.
Treatment. The treatment for Tuberculosis is a six month cycle. All you need to do is consult a medical expert. If you have symptoms, consult your doctor. Following the advised line of treatment under strict medical supervision is crucial to recovery.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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