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World TB Day: Can Lungs Recover After Tuberculosis? | Affinity Health

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, highlights public awareness of TB this World Tuberculosis (TB) Day.


Did you know that more than one-third of individuals succeed with TB treatment? By taking antibiotics on a consistent basis, patients can fight persistent lung damage. This damage leads to holes in the lungs and enlargement of the airways.


TB is a significant public health concern worldwide. Infection rates continue to soar despite being preventable and treatable. Over 4 100 people die from TB each day. Health facilities report about 30 000 new cases daily. South Africa’s high HIV prevalence increases the number of people with active TB.


“World TB Day provides a chance to focus on those affected by this devastating illness. The world needs more effort to eradicate TB,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

What Is TB?

Bacteria is the main cause of TB. As bacteria spreads from person to person via minute droplets in the air. Although TB is contagious, it is difficult to contract. You are more likely to contract TB from someone you live or work with than from a stranger.


Active TB patients who have taken medication for at least two weeks are no longer contagious. Your body can host bacteria that causes TB. This is due to your immune system being capable of keeping you healthy. As a result, physicians distinguish between:

Latent TB:

You have TB, but the bacteria in your body are dormant and create no symptoms. Because latent TB can progress to active TB, therapy is critical.

Active TB:

Germs reproduce and spread in your body, causing tissue damage. This can happen when an untreated TB patient coughs, speaks, sneezes, spits, laughs or sings.


Active TB symptoms include any of the following:
  • Coughing for three weeks or more
  • Experiencing blood or mucous when coughing
  • Pain in the chest, or pain during breathing or coughing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sweating at night
  • Chills
  • Appetite loss


Learn More: What are the Signs of TB and How Can You Get Treatment?

How TB Can Cause Chronic Lung Damage

According to new research, TB leaves a legacy of daily coughing. More chest infections and an inadequate quality of life can persist long after treatment.


In about 40% of cases, patients need extra hospitalisation for lung disease treatment. Over 40% of TB patients lose their lung capacity post-recovery. This leaves patients with recurrent shortness of breath.


“This research serves as a wake-up call. We could succeed in eradicating TB worldwide tomorrow. But we will still have a legacy of chronic lung damage and bronchiectasis. TB needs better detection and treatment,” adds Hewlett.


TB tends to affect individuals in their prime working years. All age groups are at risk though. More than a quarter of all cases and deaths occur in Africa. HIV-infected people are 20 to 30 times more likely to contract active TB. Active TB is also more likely to occur in those with other illnesses that weaken the immune system.

Diagnosis And Symptoms 

Consult your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Persistent coughing


A skin test is the most often used TB diagnostic method. However, blood tests may be more prevalent. Pathologists inject a tiny dose of tuberculin beneath the skin on the inside of your forearm.


A health care practitioner will assess your arm for swelling at the injection site within 48 to 72 hours. A hard, elevated red lump indicates that you have TB. The size of the bump indicates if the test results are significant.

It is important to remember that the TB skin test is not perfect. Sometimes it implies that people have TB when they do not. It can also signal that people do not have TB when they do.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance. We offer a wide range of cover options at affordable rates. Medical cover includes access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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