Tuberculosis – Who gets it? Ways to prevent TB

WHO's Global TB Report 2016 also found that nearly half a million people were diagnosed with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

Updated: Oct 14, 2016, 12:25 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Tuberculosis, or TB, is an infectious, airborne disease that mainly affects your lungs. TB is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1.8 million people died of TB last year across the planet, 300,000 more than a year earlier. WHO's Global TB Report 2016 also found that nearly half a million people were diagnosed with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

 

TB is spread from person to person through the air. This can happen when people with lung TB cough, sneeze, spit, laugh, speak, propelling the germs into the air.

Who is most at risk?

Tuberculosis can affect people of all age groups, how individuals with the following conditions are more vulnerable to it.

  • People with weakened immune system, especially those with HIV infection
  • Persons who have been recently infected with TB bacteria
  • People who inject illegal drugs
  • People with medical conditions that weaken the immune system such as – diabetes, severe kidney disease, organ transplants, head and neck cancer, silicosis, specialized treatment for rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease.

Elderly and young children, including the babies are at high risk for contracting TB. However, tuberculosis is curable and preventable. Taking appropriate steps to prevent transmission as well as avoid contracting the disease is important.

 

Prevention

Here are a few tips to prevent and spread of tuberculosis:

  • Avoid close contact with people infected TB. If you cannot avoid contact with patients, wear a protective mask and gloves to avoid vreathing in TB bacteria.
  • Houses should be adequately ventilated to prevent transmission of TB in households.
  • TB patients should sleep alone in a separate, adequately ventilated room.
  • Should know if you are at risk – for instance, people with HIV infection need to be more carful about protecting themselves from TB exposure.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains to maintain your immune system.
  • Exercise regularly to boost your immunity as well as improve your overall health.
  • Get adequate sleep every night.
  • Maintain a proper personal hygiene and try to get more fresh air by spending some time outdoors even when you're busy.
  • If you test positive for latent TB, treat it before it becomes active.
  • Get your child vaccinated with the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine that has been used in many countries to help prevent the spread of TB, especially among small children.

Following these simple steps can help you and your loved one reduce prevent or minimise their risk of developing the disease.