5 facts about TB
Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that affects a lot of South Africans and there are so many myths and misconceptions that have mislead people about the impact the illness can have on their bodies. Here are some facts you may not know about TB.
It doesn’t only affect the lungs
People mostly associate TB with the lungs. However, the bacterial infection can also affect the brain, kidney, spine and even the stomach. This is why it’s important to get your regular health checks, especially if you have a compromised immune system (if you're living with any disease or condition that weakens your immune system).
TB is airborne
When the TB bacteria affects the lungs, the infected person will experience coughing, which often leads to the spreading of TB in the air. The bacteria can also be spread in the air when an infected person laughs, talks or even sings, if another person breathes in these germs there's a chance that they will become infected with tuberculosis
On the other hand, you can’t contract TB from sharing cutlery, plates and drinking from the same cup as someone who's infected with Tuberculosis.
You can have TB and not cough
You can suffer from other TB symptoms without having a cough. This usually means that your TB infection is in other organs, which means you are less likely to infect anyone around you.
TB symptoms typically include:
Coughing for two - three weeks or more
Coughing with a lot of mucus, sometimes blood
Loss of appetite
Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
TB is preventable
You can get TB vaccines for free from your local health clinic or hospital as well as at local pharmacies at a small price. People living with HIV tend to be vulnerable to opportunistic diseases such as TB. So, in order to lower the risk of contracting TB, make sure that you take your HIV medication daily, eat well and attend your medical appointments regularly.
It’s diagnosable and treatable
If you suspect you may have TB, quickly go to your nearest health clinic to get tested. Your medical practitioner may use a skin or mucus test (which tests for the active bacteria) or blood tests.
Once you are diagnosed with TB, you'll be given tablets (antibodies), which you'll be required to take daily for a set number of months (usually around 6 months). You'll need to continue your medication even when you start to feel better. If you take your treatment as directed by your medical practitioner, you can be completely cured from TB.
While Tuberculosis is a serious illness that affects most people, it can be prevented and cured. Make sure that you get your regular health checks and if you're diagnosed with TB, make sure that you take your full course of medication. Remember that the more you learn about TB, the better you will be at separating the myths from the facts.
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