Why TB treatment adherence is important.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs but can be found in other parts of the body. It’s caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, which is spread through the air from one person to another. Although TB treatment has been recorded as one of the most draining treatment processes, treatment adherence is extremely important if you’d like to recover from this disease. Here’s more.
The TB treatment process
TB is a bacterium that’s carried in tiny droplets in someone’s saliva. It spreads easily through the air when someone who’s infected coughs, speaks or even sings. A lot of people tend to stop their treatment once they start feeling better. However, for TB to be cured, treatment must be taken as specified by your healthcare professional for these reasons:
- TB bacteria die very slowly, so even when patients start to feel better, the bacteria may still be active in the body. To clear your body of it completely, it’s imperative that you take your treatment.
- The dangers of not completing the whole course of treatment causes the risk of drug-resistant TB. If you stop taking your medicine and some of the bacteria is still active, it may become resistant to the medicine you were taking. This means that you’ll need different drugs to kill the bacteria because the old ones won’t work anymore.
- The only way to get better is to take your treatment as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Most public clinics promote Directly Observed Therapy (DOTS), this is when a healthcare worker meets with the TB patient every day, or several times a week, to be sure they are sticking to their treatment. The healthcare worker will also check for any side effects from the treatment. Check with your local clinic about their DOTS program if you or someone you know is struggling to adhere to treatment.
Multidrug Resistant TB and Extensively Drug Resistant TB
Drug resistance happens when patients don’t receive the correct medication or complete their full course of treatment. You may have heard of Multidrug resistant tuberculosis (commonly known as MDR-TB) or Extensively Drug Resistant TB (commonly known as XDR-TB), but these are the two types of TB drug resistance.
MDR-TB is a strain that can’t be treated with the most common anti-TB medication, whereas XDR-TB is a form of TB caused by a type of bacteria that’s resistant to many forms of effective anti-TB drugs.
People living with HIV who are infected by XDR-TB stand a higher chance of not surviving this strain of TB as it weakens their already compromised immune systems even further.
Although TB can be cured, it’s very difficult to do this if you don’t take your treatment as advised by your healthcare professional. The best thing to do is to stick to the prescribed treatment routine and don’t be ashamed to reach out to your local clinic about their DOTS program if you need help adhering to your treatment. You can also reach out to me for help or support.
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