Let me tell you a little secret (Tuberculosis Word) ….Peju Adeniran
It is hard to be brave as a doctor. It takes a lot of practice to act like you can cope with everything, and even then sometimes you cannot always win.
I remember the morning that I held my new born niece, just hours old, as she was about to be immunized.
Imagine this; she had just been through hours of squeezing and pushing through the birth canal, entering this new place that was noisy and bright, and the next thing her skin was being pierced by a painful long needle and bits of a virus was being pushed into her blood.
She wailed. Her mother wailed. I wailed too. But in spite of the fact that it was a painful thing to do and watch, we had no choice; my little niece had been born into a world that had Tuberculosis in it, and like the millions of babies born everyday, we had to do this to help save her live.
The Tuberculosis infection is one of those, that we refer to as a multi-system disease because instead of being restricted only to the lungs and manifesting as a cough, (which many seem to know about) Tuberculosis can actually be present in various parts of the body.
It is commonly transmitted though, through the lungs, when one inhales infected droplets. The organism that causes Tuberculosis likes to live in the lungs of an infected carrier. When this person coughs and releases droplets into the air, an infected, un-immunized person that breathes this in runs a high risk of contracting the disease.
An infected person can then develop symptoms that range from chronic cough, productive of blood or bloody sputum, weight loss, fever, wasting away of muscles, weakness, bone infection, and even sometimes invasion of the spinal cord.
Tuberculosis is therefore of great concern and cases of infection are treated with utmost urgency and seriousness. This was a fact that was brought home to me in my last three months as a medical intern.
“Engineer” was a man in his fifties who presented to the hospital where I worked as a case of TB infection. He was not a new case, in fact he had been diagnosed a year earlier.
Most patients with TB are often given what we call “DOT” or “Direct Observation Therapy.” This means the patient has to report at the hospital every day, for about 6 out of his 9 month treatment period to take his drugs under the watchful eye of the physician. This is to ensure that the patients take their drugs and do not pass on the infection to others.
This did not go down well with “Engineer” so by the time he was forcibly brought by his family to our hospital, he had defaulted in treatment several times, at previous hospitals and was already very frustrated.
“I will sign, I will sign!” he shouted. “I will sign that I’ll take these drugs at home everyday!, Im tired of coming to hospital like this!”
We felt pity for him, but unfortunately, we still could not release him to go home and risk being a bank of infection to everyone.
If you are infected like “Engineer” and you do not want to report to the hospital daily, please, please, please:
Be very careful of how close you stand to people
- Cover your mouth when you cough
- If you live in the same house with other people please ensure that the windows are open all the time and the rooms are well ventilated also.
- Make sure to boil your clothes and bedding or those of an infected person in very hot water (100 degrees) while washing, to rid it of bacteria
- Tuberculosis infection is difficult within a healthy immune system. Always boost your immunity with proper nutrition and exercise
- Stay away from children, especially those children in the first months of their lives, especially un-immunized ones. Please don’t carry them.
* As we celebrate world Tuberculosis day, remember that TB is a disease of community importance and for cases of suspected infection, the relevant health authorities in the community should be notified.