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Management of Tuberculosis

Updated on August 19, 2016

I am pretty much sure that almost 100% of planet earth population have heard about TB/Tuberculosis but not everyone knows what really TB is and what causes TB. In this article I will discuss about what I know about TB (hey to make it a discussion you will need to add what you know on the comment box, otherwise it is not gonna be a discussion :) )

What does TB affect?;

The bacteria attack the whole body and destroy tissue. If this occurs in the lungs, the bacteria can create a hole in the lung. The TB bacteria can infect anyone who breathes the bacteria in. Those people who have good immune systems are able to fight the bacteria and the bacteria become inactive. Such people have a latent TB infection. People with weak immune systems often develop active TB. The following are the examples of people with weak immune systems:

* babies and young children because their immune systems are not yet fully developed

* poverty-stricken people whose immune systems have been reduces because of poor nutrition.

* HIV positive people

* drug abusers

* those who suffer from serious illness such as diabetes mellitus

* organ transplant patients

TB Tests

* X-rays of lungs are taken. If a person is suspected of having TB of the lungs , holes in the lungs created by the bacterium will show up as patches on the X-ray of the lungs.

* TB skin test. A liquid called tuberculin is injected under the skin on the lower part of your arm. If you have a positive reaction to this test, you probably have latent TB infection.

* Tissue Culture. Body fluids such as phlegm is taken and grown in a laboratory. Then the culture is examined under a microsope to look for the TB bacteria. If the bacteria are present then the person has TB. This test can take 2 to 4 weeks in most laboratories.

- Most treatment methods require several medicines to be taken every day for at least six months. The exact names of the medicines that need to be taken and for how long depends on how advanced the disease is in the patient, the age of the patient, which organs have been infected and whether they have strong or weak immune systems.

- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set a target of an 85% cure raste. South Africa's cure rate of 62% falls far short of this target. One of the main reasons for this has to do with the high cost of keeping patients in the hospital to make certain they take their medicines daily. Some patients who are sent home may forget to continue tasking the medicines every day for a long period of time. Sometimes, patients stop taking medicines as soon as they start feeling better. If a patient stops takingthe medicines, he/she is likely to get the disease again. This is called a relapse. There is also the danger that the TB bacteria may become resistant to the medicines taken. In other words, the same medicine will not work on the bacteria to cure the patient.

- Members of the community health care workers may be asked to assist patients who may have such difficulties in taking their medicines regularly. These assistants are required to meet with patient and watch while the patient take his/her medicines. The meeting place may be the patient's home, work place, clinic or any other convenient point. This method of helping patients take their medicines is called Directly Observed Therapy (DOT). Sometimes, this method is reffered to as Directly Observed Short cource or DOTS. Themain advantage of DOTS is that it saves the ost involved in keeping a patient in a hospital.


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