Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death in South Africa. Despite a global slowdown in infections since 2003, South African statistics continue to rise with our country having the highest prevalence of the disease in the world today – a scary statistic when you have the health of your family at the top of your priority list.
With March being TB Awareness Month, Resolution Health takes a look at some of the basic facts about this contagious disease and what you can do to prevent it…
WHAT IS TB?
Tuberculosis or ‘TB’ is an infectious illness that is caused by the airborne bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It can cause serious health problems, particularly if it’s not caught during it’s early stages of infection. However, the disease is treatable and curable.
WHICH PARTS OF THE BODY ARE AFFECTED BY TB?
TB infects the lungs or throat (pulmonary TB), and is the only form of the illness that is infectious, which means that it can be passed on to other people. However, TB can also affect any other part of the body, including the kidneys, brain and bones. This is called non-pulmonary TB and is not infectious.
HOW IT IS SPREAD?
When someone with TB in their lungs or throat coughs or sneezes, they send the infection into the air, and this residue contains the TB bacteria. If you breathe in the bacteria over a long time, the chances are high that you may become ill with TB. However, it is important to take note of the fact that it can’t be spread through touch, sharing cutlery, bedding or clothes.
WHAT ARE TB SYMPTOMS?
It’s important to consult your doctor if you suffer from the following symptoms that occur over a long period of time, and suspect that you may have TB:
- A bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer,
- Pain in the chest,
- Coughing up blood or sputum,
- Weakness or fatigue,
- Weight loss,
- No appetite,
- Sweating at night.
WHAT STEPS CAN I TAKE TO AVOID CONTRACTING TB?
To ensure that you and your family remain healthy and avoid contracting TB, be sure to take the following steps:
- Avoid contact with people with active TB,
- Know if you are at risk and,
- Have a weakened immune system,
- Live in a confined space with others,
- Abuse drugs or alcohol.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle with balanced eating and exercise,
- Get vaccinated against TB.
To ensure the health and wellbeing of your family, be sure to invest in reliable hospital cover – not only will this ensure that you are able to maintain their health, but it will also ensure that your loved ones are offered the best medical treatment in the event of a health emergency. Click here to view the medical schemes offered by Resolution Health.