It is world tuberculosis day, today 24th of March, a day to be aware of this serious epidemic that has taken lives.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is a disease (usually of the lungs) that’s easily transmitted through the air when an infected person speaks, laughs or coughs. Although TB is rare and highly treatable, you will still need to take measures to prevent tuberculosis in certain situations, especially if you have already tested positive for latent TB ( an inactive form of TB which affects approximately 1/3 of the world’s population). So below are ways to prevent this disease…
Avoid exposing yourself to people with active TB.
Obviously the most important precaution you can take to prevent TB is to avoid being around people with active TB, which is highly contagious, especially if you have already tested positive for latent TB. More specifically:Don’t spend long periods of time with anyone who has an active TB infection, especially if they have been receiving treatment for less than two weeks.
In particular, it is important to avoid spending time with TB patients in warm, stuffy rooms.If you are forced to be around TB patients, for example if you work in a care facility where TB is currently being treated, you will need to take protective measures, such as wearing a face mask, to avoid breathing in the TB bacteria.If a friend or family member has active TB, you can help to rid them of the disease and lessen your own risk of contracting it by ensuring that they strictly follow treatment instructions.
Know if you are “at-risk”.
Certain groups of people are considered to be more at-risk of developing TB than others. If you are a member of ones of these groups, you need to be more vigilant about protecting yourself from TB exposure. Some of the main at-risk groups are as follows:People with weakened immune system, such as those with HIV or AIDs.
People who live with or care for someone with active TB, such as a close relative or a doctor/nurse.
People who live in crowded, confined spaces such as prisons, nursing homes or homeless shelters.
People who abuse drugs and alcohol, or have little or no access to proper health care.
People who live in or travel to countries where active TB is common, such as countries in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia.
Lead a healthy lifestyle.
People who are in poor health are more susceptible to the TB virus, as their disease resistance is lower than in healthy people. Therefore, it is important to do your best to lead a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat. Avoid fatty, sugary and processed foods.
Exercise often, at least 3 to 4 times a week. Try to incorporate some good cardiovascular exercise into your workouts, such as running, swimming or rowing.
Cut down on alcohol consumption and avoid smoking or taking drugs.
Get plenty of good quality sleep, ideally between 7 and 8 hours a night.
Maintain good personal hygiene and try to spend as much time as possible outdoors, in the fresh air.
Get the BCG vaccination to prevent TB.
The BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine is used in many countries to help prevent the spread of TB, especially among little children. However, the vaccine is not commonly used in areas where infection rates are low and the disease is highly treatable. Therefore, the CDC does not recommend the vaccine as a routine immunization.
In fact, the CDC only recommends the BCG vaccine for U.S. citizens in the following situations:
When a child has been tested negative for TB but will continue to be exposed to the disease, especially strains that are resistant to treatment.
When a healthcare worker is continually exposed to tuberculosis, especially strains that are resistant to treatment.
Before travelling to another country where tuberculosis is prevalent.