Tuberculosis and the looming fear of Multi-Drug Resistant Strains

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This originally appeared in an Article by Maria Smith. It is an interesting and informative read considering the relevance of Tuberculosis in animal-human health, on HIV/AIDS and in Nigeria

TB is a bacterial disease, transmitted through tiny droplets that go airborne when someone who has the disease coughs, laughs or sings. If anyone else breathes in the germ, they might get TB and go on to develop the illness. It can occur in any part of the body, but the most common location is in the lungs. The symptoms most of the time include coughs, which can be accompanied with blood stained phlegm, night sweats, loss of weight, loss of appetite and the general feeling of being unwell. There are two versions of TB, the standard version and the more severe Multi-Drug Resistant or MDR version. MDR TB has become resistant to many of the drugs that are used in tuberculosis treatment. All the versions that are left untreated are very dangerous and can lead to death. Therefore, everyone who experiences any of the symptoms needs to be checked out. However, there is no need to panic because tuberculosis treatment, especially when started early, is relatively straightforward.

Those who experience the symptoms or think that they might have the disease need to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Tests results might take time, though, so one should be patient. Sometimes, there might be need for one to stay away from people considered vulnerable as one waits for their results or during the tuberculosis treatment period. It is a necessary precaution, albeit a hard one sometimes. The tuberculosis treatment, testing and diagnosis process might turn up some big words which one might not necessarily understand. Do not be intimidated by the big words, ask for clarification on anything that is unclear. It might also be helpful to be accompanied by a trusted family member.

One of the terms often thrown around is latent infection. This is when someone breathes in the germ that causes TB, but does not develop the disease. It is thought that only a small percentage, just over ten percent, develop the disease after exposure. Latent infection means the individual is not infectious and therefore cannot be a danger to others. However, if for any reason the immune system gets weakened, then the person might be at a higher risk of developing the active TB.

Sometimes, the tuberculosis treatment procedure might involve the doctor or nurse asking where the illness originated from, or whether it has been passed on to anyone else. This is a procedure referred to as contact tracing, which involves many questions about where one has been and with whom they have been in contact. It might feel awkward but is the safest way out.

Both the Multi Drug Resistant and the standard strains of TB are curable. However, one of the most important elements of the tuberculosis treatment process is the dosage. One must make sure they take their TB medicine and do not miss any dates. It is important to only stop when instructed by the doctor or nurse. This is due to the fact that if one does not take all their medication, or stops earlier than recommended, there is a chance that the infection might come back. Tuberculosis treatment will be harder the second time around.

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