March is TB Awareness Month
About 1.5 million people die of Tuberculosis (TB) in the developing world every year. World TB Day is on 24 March, and the month is used to raise awareness around Tuberculosis. Remember, TB is both preventable and treatable.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease. It mainly affects your lungs but can also affect other parts of the body and vital organs. The bacteria that causes Tuberculosis is spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes, much like the infamous COVID19 explains Mayo Clinic.
Yes, TB is potentially life-threatening, but with treatment, sufferers do go on to live well. In 1988, the late President Nelson Mandela was diagnosed with TB while still a political prisoner at Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town.
Because he was the world’s most famous political prisoner, the prison services took him to a private hospital in the southern suburbs for hospitalisation until media attention forced them to take him to a more secure city hospital used by top apartheid government cabinet ministers and members of parliament.
He responded well to the six-month course of medication. And the rest is history on how well he thrived and the active life he lived in the global public eye until his death in 2013 from old-age illness.
What is TB?
According to an article by the World Health Organisation (WHO), almost a third of the human population is infected with the disease globally. Some 10 -20 % of this group eventually develop active TB. The rest remain latent because their immunity protects them.
TB is an infectious disease that attacks mostly the lungs, but you can get TB of the spine or fallopian tubes, for example.
TB is caused by a bacterium. It is classed as a communicable disease spread from person to person through airborne particles from an infected person, coughing, sneezing, shouting or spitting.
It is not only spread in poorly ventilated homes between family members but in workplaces, night-clubs, bars, prisons, schools, over-crowded trains, taxis and busses, anywhere people are crowded together. Getting it depends on your immunity levels and your body’s ability to resist the disease.
Anyone can get TB regardless of race, colour, creed, demographics or wealth status – the elderly, the very young, people with weakened or compromised immunity from chronic diseases such as HIV or diabetes, teachers, nurses, doctors, security services people, and prisoners are all vulnerable.
What are the symptoms?
One day you have this dry irritating cough that won’t go away, no matter how much antibiotics and cough mixtures the doctors prescribe. You lose weight, you wake up in the middle of the night, feverish and dripping in sweat, and you’re tired all the time with chest pains.
Eventually, when expectorants break the dry cough, you cough up dark yellow or blood-speckled chunks of phlegm. That means being referred to the local clinic for a chest x-ray and a sputum test to be sent to a lab. Diagnosis of any life-threatening disease, especially one that has a stigma, seems like the end of the world. Clinicians will quickly reassure you that this is not the case.
TB can be cured
Don’t ignore the medical experts! Take your daily dose of 6 tablets. Avoid unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol or smoking. Eating healthy, plant-based foods, sleep, doing slow exercises and ensuring that your living space is well-ventilated and clean helps the process.
You can die if you aren’t treated. There are anomalies in that some people are resistant or allergic to the drugs used to treat TB. Also, like in the coronavirus, there are mutations of the disease that is difficult to fight and is deadlier. Finishing your course of treatment without stopping or skipping doses is of vital importance, as it protects you and others.
Taking care of yourself is a lot like following the coronavirus to-do list:
- Wash your hands often. Be careful what you consume as the bacilli can survive on surfaces like utensils for up to three hours.
- Wear a mask! Taking this precaution around is important so that you don’t spread and they don’t inhale.
- Within two to three weeks of starting treatment, you will no longer have open TB and aren’t contagious. Stay home and only return to work or school once the clinic doctor has given the go-ahead.
- And when coughing or sneezing, cough into the joint of your arm, covering your mouth. If you use a tissue, flush it down the toilet or place it in a plastic bag before discarding it in the bin.
And remember to always strive to build a healthy immune system and see a doctor if you suspect that you may have caught TB.
Before making any health-related decisions, always speak to a qualified medical professional. This isn’t always possible for everyone. Medical advice is expensive. In South Africa, the Government health system is notoriously overfilled and understaffed. There are endless challenges when it comes to getting quality, constant healthcare. That is why Affinity Health is on a mission to make healthcare and health-related advice accessible and affordable for ALL!
Affinity Health can provide you with either a day-to-day plan, a hospital plan, or a combination of both for total peace of mind. You can also benefit from booster options. Contact Affinity Health today, and our agent will get in touch with you and take you through all the options available so that you can find an easy, affordable cover that is handcrafted for you and your loved ones.