Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a lung disease caused by a bacterium named Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. Most of the population, if not all, have latent TB. This means that they have been infected by the bacteria but are not ill with the disease and cannot spread it.
Those who are immunocompromised such as people who are living with HIV, have malnutrition, severe kidney disease, cancer, diabetes or those who use tobacco have a greater probability of falling ill with the disease. 1
TB is curable and preventable. 1

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RISK FACTORS

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  • Immunocompromised persons: especially those infected with HIV.
  • Living or being around someone who has TB in poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Very young or advanced age.
  • Someone who has recently been infected with the TB bacteria.
It spreads through air droplets when someone with lung TB coughs, sneezes or spits and the microbes propel in the air. Someone then needs to inhale these microbes to become infected with the disease.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

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  • Cough for more than two weeks.
  • Night sweats: having to wake up at night and change your clothes as they are wet.
  • Unintentional weight loss: clothes have become loose fitting.
  • Fever.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fatigue.
  • Can experience chest pain or pain while breathing

COMPLICATIONS

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  • Pain in the spine due to TB infection of the bones of the spine.
  • Pain and swelling of your joints, especially the hip and knee joints due to TB infection of the joints.
  • Meningitis.
  • TB of the liver or kidney.
  • TB of the heart.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Increased risk of lung cancer.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES WHEN DIAGNOSED WITH TB

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  • Stay at home until the doctor says that you can return to your normal activities.
  • The people that stay with you must also see a doctor to check if they have active TB.
  • Make sure you take the proper therapy as directed by the doctor.
  • Do not miss any medications. Remind yourself with a calendar, an alarm on your phone or ask a friend or family member to remind you.
  • Talk to your doctor about directly observed therapy (DOTS).
  • Keep your house well aired.
  • Eat a healthy diet.



1. World Health Organisation [Internet]. What is TB? How is it Treated?. United Kingdom: World Health Organisation; [Updated 2018 Jan; cited 2019 Aug 19]. Available from: https://www.who.int/features/qa/08/en/.
2. Mato Clinic Staff [Internet]. Tuberculosis. America: Mayo Clinic; [updated 2019 Jan 30; cited 2019 Aug 19]. Available from:https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseasesconditions/tuberculosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351250.
3. National Jewish Health [Internet]. Tuberculosis: Lifestyle Management; [updated 2013 Feb 01; cited 2019 Aug 19]. Available from:https://www.nationaljewish.org/conditions/tuberculosis-tb/lifestyle-management.

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