It’s National Tuberculosis Day on August 19.
Unfortunately, this deadly disease continues to become a national health concern in the Philippines. In 2020 alone, the World Health Organization reported that there are 554 cases of Filipinos affected with TB for every 100,000 Filipinos. Furthermore, WHO reported that the Philippines has the highest rate of TB cases in Asia. This fact makes Filipinos more vulnerable to acquiring the dreaded disease.
For this day, our respiratory health experts whipped up a quick guide on how to prevent tuberculosis from affecting your loved ones.
What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis or TB is a disease caused by a bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis. If someone is infected with TB, they can easily pass the disease to another person through coughing, sneezing, spitting, or even talking. Those with TB will experience fever, a long-lasting cough, loss of appetite, chills, and may even cough up blood as a sign of TB that has reached the lungs.
Aside from availing premium health services, avoid TB from ruining your family’s respiratory health by following these 7 doctor-recommended tips for everyone in your family.
How to Prevent TB For Babies or Toddlers
1. Get babies or toddlers vaccinated.
The best way to prevent tuberculosis from harming your baby or toddler is through the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine. This vaccine is proven effective against severe TB cases in infants and toddlers.
But take note that the BCG vaccine only prevents the severe development of TB. It does not stop the TB virus from entering the body of babies, so it is recommended to avoid TB exposure for your young ones. Or if the mother has been exposed to tuberculosis, it is best to have the baby tested and treated for TB as soon as possible.
2. Receive the antibiotic isoniazid.
Aside from the BCG vaccine, another way to prevent TB is by receiving the antibiotic isoniazid. Doctors prescribe the said antibiotic for babies and toddlers who have been exposed to tuberculosis, whether they have symptoms or not, to avoid TB from progressing any further.
How to Prevent TB For Kids
1. Get tested for TB every 2-3 years.
For kids who have been exposed to people infected with TB, it is recommended to be tested every 2 to 3 years. For every test, the doctor will ask about symptoms and the child’s health history. Depending on the doctor’s advice, your child would be advised to get a skin or blood test. Ensure that you explain and support your child before the tests, so that they will not be scared in taking them.
2. Take the prescribed medicine.
Medical experts would also prescribe medicine that your kids have to take daily for 12 weeks or several months, depending on their diagnosed TB cases. Treatment might also be recommended by your doctor, so it is better to consult your healthcare provider for your best options.
Remember that whether your healthcare provider recommends medicine or other treatment methods, ensure that your kid fully finishes the treatment and medicines. Also, follow exactly your doctor’s instructions for the medicine intake or treatment sessions. Failure to do so might extend their TB treatment, or prevent them from getting well.
How to Prevent TB For Teens
1. Educate and support them.
Adolescents or teens are at the age of exploring. This makes them more prone to trying alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and other harmful behaviors because of peer pressure or pure curiosity. UNICEF pointed out that this is one of the reasons why it is more challenging for teens to understand and seek medical help for tuberculosis.
Aside from checkups and other medical processes, education is crucial in getting well. One of the ways on how to prevent tuberculosis among teens or adolescents is to offer them psychosocial support and education regarding the disease. It is best to explain to them how the disease is contracted, how distancing or isolating from their peers for some time can help curb the disease, and how their doctor’s recommendations can help them heal and prevent from further spreading TB.
2. Seek age-specific treatments or therapy.
According to The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, puberty has a huge impact on the spread of TB. Teens undergo immunological changes and their constant need to be with their peers can increase TB cases. Having TB can also increase chances of social isolation, which can lead to other health problems for teens.
In this sense, consult your doctor for age-specific therapy for your teens. Ensure that your child has care treatments for their mental and reproductive health. Also, give them assurance that aside from their doctor, they can completely trust you with their health concerns.
How to Prevent TB for Adults
1. Get regularly tested for TB.
Adults may be more exposed to TB because they have the ability to take care of the young and older patients who have tuberculosis. Also, adults infected with tuberculosis might spread it even more if they proceed to their workplaces and other public places like churches, grocery stores, and malls. Because of this, regular testing is an extra precaution that you can take on how to prevent tuberculosis.
If you had been in a closed setting of someone with or suspected to have tuberculosis. It also helps to get yourself tested and treated for other risk factors like diabetes or HIV, because they increase your chances of contracting tuberculosis and experiencing complications.
2. Wear face masks when sick or when the air is not clean.
While the pandemic has taught us the value of wearing face masks and covering our mouths when we sneeze, it is important to practice this protocol when you have been exposed to someone with TB as well. Wear face masks with good filters all the time, avoid reusing disposable masks, and make sure to wrap them well before throwing them into the trash can.
How to Prevent TB in Senior Citizens
1. Regular exercise and a healthy diet.
The elderly are easy targets for the TB bacteria since their immune systems are already at their weakest. The only surefire way to a strong immune response is to practice living a healthy lifestyle.
Medical experts recommend that senior citizens should always exercise, eat a healthy diet, and practice good hygiene to avoid tuberculosis from harming their health.
If you need assistance in what exercises and at what capacity should you do them, our experienced respiratory experts at The Hospital at Maayo can help you out with our state-of-the-art Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) machines.
As for diet and other fitness concerns, we also have nutritionists and physical therapists on board to help you out.
2. Get tested and treated immediately.
Once the senior citizen in your family has been exposed to TB, get them tested and treated immediately. Doctors highly suggest that the elderly should have quick access to TB testing and treatment to avoid any complications. After all, early detection and therapy will likely be successful in combating severe TB.
How to Prevent TB Those with weak respiratory systems
1. Maintain a well-ventilated home.
If you know someone in your family who has a weak respiratory system, it is recommended to always keep your entire home well-ventilated. Open the windows of your house and use a fan to circulate the air in your house.
2. Stick to a healthy lifestyle.
Just like elderly with weakened immune systems, observing proper hygiene and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are also steps on how to prevent tuberculosis for those with weak respiratory health.
3. Schedule regular appointments and check-ups.
Medical experts would also recommend that you schedule and go to all medical appointments to make sure that your TB (or other respiratory problems that you might have) is under control.
Practices for the whole family
There are various measures on how to prevent tuberculosis from spreading any further in your family. Here are a few quick tips to follow:
- Ensure proper ventilation so that germs do not stay inside your home.
- Keep your homes disinfected and tidy.
- Observe proper nutrition and exercise.
- Practice correct coughing and sneezing etiquette.
- Seek proper treatment and quarantine procedures.
- Get professional medical help.
TB is a deadly disease that can easily harm you and your family. Consult expert tips from your healthcare provider to stop it on its tracks. If one of your family members has been exposed to TB or may be exhibiting symptoms, seek help immediately by booking your appointment now at The Hospital at Maayo.