I am a health advocate. I learned in nursing school that tuberculosis is highly communicable and it is deadly if not appropriately treated. I appreciate the real picture of tuberculosis by the moment I’m assigned in rural areas. Case finding is included in our responsibility as a community health nurse. And scouting for TB symptomatic is part of our task.
LET’S CHECK WHAT IS TUBERCULOSIS
TB is one of the oldest diseases ever known to affect humans. It has been a major public health hazard for decades. Unfortunately, up to present, it has not been controlled, and still increasing, especially in developing countries like ours. In the Philippines, pulmonary TB (PTB) is still one of the Top 10 causes of deaths as reported by our Department of Health. The organism responsible is Mycobacterium tuberculosis. There are other species of Mycobacterium that also causes tuberculosis but they are not very common. It remains a problem in our country because of two major reasons: a) unsanitary practices and living condition; and b) resistant cases of TB because of incomplete treatment. It is very common and unsanitary to see people spitting anywhere. It has shown that TB infection is spread mainly by airborne droplets. This means that it spreads from coughing, spitting of saliva and sputum, or just by talking with the infected person. The droplets are very small in size and can stay in the air for several hours. Another main cause of high incidence of PTB is emergence of resistant cases of TB bacteria because of incomplete or inadequate treatment. Oftentimes, this is due to lack of adequate knowledge of the disease and financial constraints. The common public has a big part in preventing the spread of this disease.
Here are tips to prevent spread TB infection
- You should avoid crowded places.
- Strictly observe sanitary practices. Always keep the house and all furniture clean.
- Proper sputum disposal and covering of the mouth when coughing can help a lot.
- For the person with TB infection, position his bed beside the window, and use an electric fan directed toward the window to keep the air clean. Provide a well ventilated area.
- Always eat nutritious and well-balanced food to maintain good health.
- Get enough sleep always.
- All children, especially the newborn, should get a BCG vaccination. A scar should form at the injection site to ensure that the vaccination is effective.
- You should also have a good circulation of air in the house and in the work environment.
FACT: TB bacteria cannot thrive in a well-oxygenated environment that is why they like to infect the upper lungs because oxygen there is minimal. Fresh air and adequate lung expansion by deep breathing are very important parts of preventing PTB.
The doctors, together with the government and private sector, are working hard in intensifying the proper treatment of TB patients. The DOTS technique of treatment has been found to be most effective. This means “Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course.” Patients with PTB are given the medications for free and their intake of anti-TB tablets is directly seen by supervising personnel which they call treatment partners. This is to ensure that the proper schedule and dosage is maintained for proper treatment ant to prevent occurrence of hard-to-treat and resistant cases. The anti-TB treatment is given for six to nine months and is closely monitored by sputum examination. Being keen and religious in participating with the DOTS treatment TB will never be a problem.