How To Identify Tuberculosis & Protect Yourself

tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that typically affects the lungs. 

TB is spread through air droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

In Nigeria, the disease is common, and about 407,000 Nigerians come down with TB each year.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacteria responsible for causing TB. It can be in a person’s body for a long time without causing any symptoms. This type of TB is known as Latent TB. 

Latent TB can become an active disease after years of hibernation. This activation is usually due to a weakened immune system. Diseases like HIV are often responsible for activating latent TB. Infact, there is a trend of seeing people with HIV come down with TB also.

How To Know If You Have Tuberculosis

There are some common signs and symptoms associated with tuberculosis. They include:

  • Cough lasting more than two weeks
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite

One of the most common symptoms is cough, especially cough lasting more than two weeks. So, whenever you have a cough for two weeks, go to the hospital instead of treating it at home with cough syrup.

Tuberculosis is more than a cough because it can affect other parts of the body apart from the lungs. 

Tuberculosis can affect the spine causing Pott’s disease.

It can also affect the joints, causing Tuberculous arthritis,

It can cause meningitis, an inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain

Also, it can affect the membrane that covers the heart (pericardium) leading to inflammation of the membrane.

Risk Factors

Tuberculosis is more common among people that are:

  • Homeless
  • Immunocompromised (for example, HIV, Diabetes, Cancer, Chronic Kidney Disease)
  • Of low-socioeconomic status (due to cramped living conditions)

Treatment

Although tuberculosis can develop into a severe condition, TB treatment can help a person recover from the disease. In Nigeria, TB treatment is commonly administered through DOT therapy (Directly Observed Therapy).

Prevention

The TB vaccine (BCG) is usually administered to babies in Nigeria to protect them from the disease.

Also, always practise good respiratory hygiene whenever you have a cough. This includes coughing or sneezing into disposable tissue paper or your elbow. 

Wash your hands frequently, and ensure that your rooms are well ventilated (cross ventilation does the trick).

TB is more than just a cough, and it can cause severe complications if not discovered on time or treated properly. So, whenever you have a cough that isn’t going away, don’t just go to the chemist. Speak to a doctor! 

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