TB: What you should know

Image: Florida Institute for Innovation.

March marks the month for the awareness for Tuberculosis (TB) specifically in South Africa with its high prevalence amongst our population.
The World Health Organisation has stated that TB has been the leading cause of death and disability for many years.
TB is a severe contagious bacterial infection which can attack various parts of the body including one’s spine (extra-pulmonary) and most commonly a person’s lungs (pulmonary). A person with Pulmonary TB can present with symptoms such as chest pain, coughing up of blood, weakness/ fatigue, weight Loss, poor appetite, chills, fever and night sweats.
The diagnosis of TB however is through testing of a sputum sample taken by the patient and a chest X-ray.
TB is extremely detrimental to a person’s life expectancy if they already have pre-diagnosed to immunosuppressive diseases such as HIV/AID’s.
TB infection is higher in countries which are less economically advanced such as Africa, Asia and Latin American countries.
TB is a curable disease being treated with specific group of antibiotics; in a large majority of cases however there remains a high percentage of TB patients who are resistant to most of the antibiotics used to treat TB; this is the leading challenge to the treatment of TB.
Treatment of TB with the administration of TB medication is usually over a period of six months in which doctors would state ones clinical status as ‘cured’. However it remains to be said that despite being cleared from a medical perspective there remains various problems that are faced by TB patients with regards to maintaining previous way of life.
Research has shown that there is a high rate of disability and death amongst TB outpatients due to patients having activity limitations due to moderate to severe lung function problems and poor exercise capacity leading to most patients having a poor quality of life.
The patients that suffered the most were those with pre-existing diseases such as HIV/AID’s or having previous limiting predisposing factors such as positive smoking status.
This highlights the importance of early diagnoses and treatment initiation. It can be said however that patients do have a drastic improvement in quality of life by the initiation and completion of antibiotic medication.
The role of physiotherapy is primary prevention in that prevention is better than cure by health education of avoiding risks to the contraction of TB. Secondary in treating the risks in referring when a patient presents with the signs and symptoms of TB. A Physio has a direct role in secondary prevention is to assist in obtaining of sputum to be tested; chest therapy with nebulization is done in order to mobilize and expectorate the sputum sample. Finally tertiary by rendering a service in the treatment causes of the disease being shortness of breath in which relaxation positions can be taught and Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT) in an attempt to wean the patient from wall oxygen.
If anyone is suffering from the above mentioned symptoms they should visit their nearest clinic immediately. For more information please call 056 816 2154.

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