Hate the disease but not the diseased! Let’s take a moment to address tuberculosis disease and the social stigma associated with it. World Tuberculosis Day is observed on March 24 every year and is supported by organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO). It is an international event that aspires to increase public awareness of tuberculosis and the efforts made to check and treat this dangerous disease.
In the year 2015, around 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and there were 1.8 million TB deaths, making it the most infectious killer worldwide. TB is deeply rooted in populations where people’s human rights and dignity are compromised. While anyone can contract this disease, it majorly thrives among people living in poverty, marginalized communities and groups, and other vulnerable populations.Thus, it is very important to aware people of this epidemic disease to take better care and precautions.
What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria generally attack the lungs, but they can also harm other body parts.It is an air-borne disease which spreads when a person with TB of the lungs or throat talks, coughs, or sneezes. You are more likely to contract TB if you have a weak immune system.
What are the symptoms of tuberculosis?
Symptoms of TB in the lungs may include:
- A bad cough lasting for 3 weeks or longer
- Loss of weight
- Loss of appetite
- Coughing up mucus or blood
- Weakness or fatigue
- Night sweats
Is TB curable ?
If you have been exposed to a person with TB or experience these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor for tests. Skin tests, blood tests, x-rays, and other tests can tell if you have TB. If not treated correctly, TB can be deadly.
Majority of TB cases can be cured with the availability and administration of right medications. Medications which are mainly used for treatment are antibiotics and they’re required to be taken for a relatively long time. The standard length of time for a course of TB antibiotics is about 6 months.
Even if the TB symptoms have gone away, it is important for the course of treatment to be completed fully. Any bacteria that have survived the treatment could become resistant to the prescribed medications.
What are the ways to prevent tuberculosis?
A few common measures may help you to prevent the spread of active TB.
- Avoid other people by not going to school or work, or sleeping in the same room as someone who is infected
- Cover the mouth or wear a mask, and ventilate rooms to limit the spread of bacteria
- TB vaccinations like BCG injections are given to children in order to vaccinate them against tuberculosis.
“Tuberculosis is taking a heavy toll on its victims, affecting them in the prime of their lives, intimidating their health security and that of their families. People with TB are discriminated. They may be isolated socially, mostly in small communities – even entire families may be avoided. Let’s join hands against TB and work together to distribute the real messages to each and every person. Let’s ensure no discrimination against these patients and work towards empowering them with knowledge.”, says Dr. Deepak Talwar – Senior Consultant & Chairman – Metro Center for Respiratory Diseases (MCRD), Metro Hospitals & Heart Institute, Noida