How To Prevent Tuberculosis: 8 Prevention Methods

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How To Prevent Tuberculosis
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Tuberculosis is generally an infectious disease. Bacteria from the air travel from an infected person and then spread the Mycobacterium tuberculosis to others. Tuberculosis is mainly known to affect a person’s lungs (Pulmonary TB), and slowly it spreads to all parts of the body. This form of TB is known as extrapulmonary Tuberculosis. Thus it becomes essential to know how to prevent Tuberculosis.

When someone is affected with M. tuberculosis infection but shows no symptoms and has no TB disease, it is called LTBI. This infected person cannot spread TB infection and thus is not considered as infectious TB.

However, if someone neglects LTBI, then they might develop TB disease. Tuberculosis disease starts when the TB bacteria multiply and the person’s immune system is compromised. At this point, they should rush to their doctors and seek medical help.

Also, if you are suffering from TB, you must stay away from others to prevent TB from spreading and reduce the risk of getting others involved in it.

The symptoms can progress rapidly or may even evolve after the infection. The symptoms of TB disease vary, and some can experience weight loss, fatigue, fever, chills, excessive coughing, and dominant chest pain.

Types Of Tuberculosis

TB germs often live in your body and stay there long without even making you sick. The germs are inactive, and these cannot be transmitted to someone else.

However, if you suffer from TB, and someone stays near you for a long time, they will develop TB disease.

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

There are two types of Tuberculosis. The first form of TB is Latent TB infection and the second form of infection is the TB disease. Let us know about these two forms of Tuberculosis.

1. Latent TB Infection (Inactive)

This form of infectious TB is also called inactive TB. This form of TB is also called inactive or sleeping TB since they stay in your body for a long time but has no effects.

  • If you have this form of Tuberculosis, you must have been exposed to TB. You have TB bacteria inside your body, but they are irresponsive and have no symptoms. However, you can be sure by doing a skin or a blood test for TB.

  • You cannot spread the bacteria to others in this form of TB.

  • If you do not get proper treatment, the bacteria inside your body can become active and compromise your body parts. However, this may happen if you mourn from old age or have an HIV infection.

  • There will be a 5-10% chance of conversion of latent TB into active TB disease, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

2. TB Disease (Active)

This form of TB disease is called active TB.

  • The symptoms of this TB can be fatigue, fever chest pain, sweating at night, coughing up blood, and weight loss.

  • There is an excellent chance of spreading the active TB to people around you. It may transmit to your friends, family members, and other people near you. According to WHO, every year around 8 million people are diagnosed with active tuberculosis.

  • You must take medicine until it’s wrapped up. This form of disease can always be controlled and cured. However, it may take longer to cure, and you may fall sick if not taking medication properly.

Risk Factors of TB Transmission

You can get affected by TB disease if you have close contact with TB patients. Though the transmission usually takes a longer time. One cannot catch this infection easily. There are the risk factors for Tuberculosis.

  • TB transmission can occur if your family members, friend, or co-worker has active TB.

  • You can catch Latent TB if you have moved into someplace where TB germs are common. Places like Russia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America have more TB germs.

  • You may catch TB germs if you work in a hospital or nursing home.

  • TB infection can happen if you are from health care workers for TB patients with a high risk of TB.

  • If you are a smoker, you may catch active TB.

  • You may catch TB infection if you have close contact with homeless shelters, HIV patients, people from jail, or stay in high-risk groups.

The body’s immune system fights back to flush out the TB bacteria. However, it will fail to do so if you have

  • AIDs or HIV

  • Diabetes

  • Kidney disease

  • Cancer in the head and neck

  • Undergoing Chemotherapy

  • If you have low body weight and lack nutrition

  • Undergoing medications for organ transplants

  • Taking drugs to treat Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Babies’ immune system is not fully formed, so the chances of affecting them are very high. A study suggests the rate of tuberculosis is high in children.

Signs And Symptoms Of Tuberculosis

Usually, the Latent TB infection does not have any symptoms, and it does not make you fall sick. However, active TB is pretty dangerous, and only skin or blood tests can identify this type of bacteria.

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Also, you may have some symptoms, by which you can identify the form of bacteria inside your body.

  • Coughing for more than three weeks

  • Severe chest pain

  • Coughing up blood often

  • Feeling restless all of the time

  • Sweating at night

  • Chills

  • Fever

  • Loss of Appetite

  • Weight loss

If you find yourself suffering from the above symptoms, you must rush to the doctor and do some tests to confirm the TB bacteria. By the awareness of these symptoms, you can diagnose TB on your own.

How To Prevent Tuberculosis

One must control the TB disease, and it has to be done in several steps. This contagious infection was one of the leading causes of death for people in the United States in the 20th Century.

However, currently, most of the cases are cured with the help of antibiotics. However, it takes a lot of time to recover from active TB disease, and medications work. The medications need at least six to ten months to work.

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

If you are suffering from TB, you must stop transmitting this bacteria so that people near you do not get affected.

To prevent the spread of Tuberculosis, one must identify the active TB disease and then start curing them using drugs. If the medicines are correctly used, the TB will not be infectious at a regular speed and thus can not spread TB to others.

One must use Cough Etiquette to stop the spreading of TB if the infected person is not on treatment.

However, if the treatment is not practical due to drug-resistant TB, then all the efforts of preventative therapy go useless.

Furthermore, if a person has TB and HIV infection simultaneously, the number of infected people by the origin of infectious TB increases rapidly.

In such cases, most people from all over the world will develop TB disease, rather than decrease in number.

Other Activities To Prevent The Spread Of Tuberculosis

TB germs spread when someone sneezes or coughs in front of anyone. Even when someone laughs, talks, or sings, some droplets are released which contain TB germs.

If you are a health care worker, there is an excellent chance of catching TB disease. However, it is not easy to catch. It would be best to spend a long time near someone who has a lot of bacteria stored in their lungs.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

There are many ways to stop the spread of TB disease, and it includes preventing people with Latent TB infection from developing active TB disease.

TB infection control always includes the use of masks and respirators. It also helps in preventing the spread of TB in hospitals as well as in prison.

It is also acknowledged that the milk’s pasteurization can also help prevent humans from getting bovine TB.

Moreover, there is also a vaccine for TB to stop the transmission of Tuberculosis. However, the effects of this vaccine are minimal and interrupt in small amounts to spread TB to adults.

1. Use Of Cough Etiquette For TB Prevention

Generally, the TB infection is spread when someone with active TB coughs or caused when someone breathes in TB bacteria from the air.

It becomes crucial for people with TB to get proper prevention, and not transmit the disease to others. People who do not get adequate treatment must go through proper precautions.

If you use the cough etiquette, then it means even if you have TB, then during a cough, you should cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Also, it would be best if you put your used tissue in a dust bin.

However, if you do not have any tissue, you must cough or sneeze onto your upper sleeve or elbow. Make sure not to cough over your hands. After this, for better health, you must rinse your hand correctly.

2. Taking BCG vaccine For TB Prevention

The name of this vaccine is Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG). It was initially developed in the 1920s era. Also, this BCG vaccine is one of the most used vaccines.

The BCG vaccination is given to all newborn children and infants in those countries, where it is a part of the national childhood immunization program. Also, this BCG vaccine is one of the most variables in case of routine use.

The BCG vaccination gave excellent results in protecting children and infants from disseminated forms of Tuberculosis.

However, the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine results on adults are variable. Since they transmit from adult cases of pulmonary TB, so it is not very effective.

3. Precautions To Take If Someone has Developed Positive MDR TB.

Though it is not sure how much HIV can affect the spread of TB transmission and the difference between drug-susceptible and drug-resistant TB, it is found that people with drug-resistant TB suffer for a long time.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Even after the start of treatment, the risk of transmission of TB increases rapidly.

TB patients who have MDR TB must practice these precautions to prevent the spread of active disease.

  • MDR TB patients must cough with a cough etiquette. The respective person must cover his nose to maintain respiratory hygiene, mainly when contacting other people.

  • Even the health care workers from the centers for disease control must use respirators when treating patients infected with MDR TB.

  • It is recommended that people who have HIV or have strong evidence of HIV infection must not provide health care to MDR TB patients.

4. Precautions For XDR TB

If you find some have developed XDR TB disease, you must ensure they stay in total isolation. Anyone who wants to visit the XDR TB patients should wear a respirator. Also, it is advised by the World Health Organization that family members with HIV must not share the same house with the XDR TB patients.

5. TB Prevention In The Disease Control And Prevention Centers

Every doctor and all other staff members abide to follow the infection control rules of the World Health Organization. They must maintain rules of TB prevention.

Every country must have infection control guidance and should implement it.

6. Health Care Settings For TB Prevention

Before, when the treatment for TB was unavailable, health care workers used to remove patients from their homes to avoid the high risk of spreading and keep them in total isolation even under ventilation systems.

Later, they changed this system and started to treat the patients in their houses. Also, some facts showed that if the TB patients stay in their houses and are cured thereby the health care workers, the disease will not spread.

It was possible due to the drug. Since the drugs act fast and make the person uninfectious, the other contacts in the house used to get infected even before diagnosing TB.

So, it becomes useless for the infected person to leave their house. In addition to this, the person can avoid public transportation. As a result, the high risk of spreading TB will be in control.

The patient can have the skin test right at home without public transportation.

7. Precautions When Someone Is Infected With TB In House

If someone in your house is affected with TB, they should be cautious to avoid getting contaminated. Since there are high rates of getting affected, one must follow prevention guidelines.

  • The ventilation system in the house must be adequate.

  • Everyone in the house must use cough etiquette or respiratory hygiene.

  • If the patient bears smudge positive, they should spend their time outdoors though this should be limited.

  • Ensure that the person sleeps alone and in a separate room to reduce high contamination rates.

  • The person must avoid public transportation. It will also reduce the high rates of spreading TB.

  • The sick person should spend their time primarily alone, with fewer people.

8. TB Treatment For TB Prevention

Chemoprophylaxis is the term given to drug treatment for TB prevention. It is the ability to deduce the risk of active TB occurring in people along with Latent TB infection.

However, Latent TB infection control is used to eliminate TB in the United States.

To prevent Latent TB infection, doctors use the drug known as Isoniazid. It prevents the bacteria from developing active TB disease. It has 60% efficacy to prevent tuberculosis.

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Photo by Tonik on Unsplash

The Isoniazid can be cheaper but has the same potential as the BCG vaccine. However, this medicine is used to protect individuals and not interrupt TB germs’ spread.

Children do not carry many active diseases of infectious TB. Hence it becomes hard to administer the Isoniazid on a large scale.

However, if you take Isoniazid daily for six months, you can benefit from this treatment. But this becomes very difficult in respect of commitment. Hence, most of them leave this medication before the period.

People who have HIV and Latent TB have benefited from Isoniazid preventative therapy.

Side Effects Of Tuberculosis Medicine

Similar to all other medicines, TB drugs also have some side effects.

Isoniazid Medicine Side Effect

  • On taking medicine for TB disease, you can experience numbness and tingle in your hands and feet.

  • Sickness

  • Loss of appetite

  • Upset Belly

  • Vomiting

  • Frailty

Ethambutol Medicine Side Effects

  • Regular chills

  • Loss of appetite

  • Severe headache

  • Stomach pain

  • Swollen joints

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

Pyrazinamide Side Effects

  • Pain in joints and muscle

  • Loss of appetite

  • Turmoil

  • Vomiting

Rifampin Side Effects

  • Rash on skin

  • Upset belly

  • Diarrhea

  • Inflamed Pancreas

  • Puking

There can also be some other health complications due to Tuberculosis infection.

  • Damage in joints

  • Lung damage

  • Infection on your bones, spinal cord, or lymph nodes

  • Problems in liver and kidney

  • Inflammation of tissues near the heart

Test and Diagnosis Of TB Disease

Generally, there are two types of standard tests available for TB germs.

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Photo by Testalize. me on Unsplash
  • Skin Test 

The next step is to check the swelling of the arm after three-four days. The name of this test is the Mantoux Tuberculin skin test. It is done by injecting a small amount of fluid into the skin in the lower arm. If the results are positive for this test, you are affected by TB germs. However, you may also get a false positive report. It happens if you have already taken the BCG vaccine. If you don’t have TB disease, the report can say you have TB.

  • Blood Test

This type of blood test is called interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs). This blood test form checks the response when TB proteins get mixed with some small amount of blood.

Furthermore, these tests cannot identify your latent TB infection or active TB disease. When you get a positive skin or blood test, the doctor will determine the type of TB germs you have. He may ask you to do

  • A chest X-ray or can ask you to do a CT scan. It is used to find any modifications in your lungs.

  • An AFB test is also known as Acid-fast Bacillus for TB germs in your sputum. It tests the mucus that comes out when you cough.

What To Do If You Have TB

If you develop latent TB infection, you surely need medicine to prevent TB disease from growing into active TB.

Only two to three drugs are there to treat this type of TB. However, you must consult with your doctor or any health care worker.

You must take the drugs exactly as told by the health care workers. If by any chance, you stop the treatment, then you will fall sick again.

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The germs will develop TB disease and also develop resistance to the drugs. After that, it will also be difficult for healthcare workers to control these germs.

Usually, the TB disease takes five to six months to deactivate and at most one year to kill all TB germs inside your body.

The TB germs stay inside your body forever. However, you need to kill them with the help of medicines.

People get sick from TB disease.

  • if anyone is affection with HIV infection

  • If someone has recently been contaminated with TB (within two to three years)

  • if someone uses illegal drugs

  • mostly infants and youngsters

  • if someone is not treated with the correct treatment in the past

  • If they are suffering from some health issues like diabetes.

The bodies of these people get weaker, and it becomes tough for them to fight TB. Even the health care settings become useless at this point.

Bottom-Line

TB Education is very crucial. People who suffer from Tb must know how to prevent Tuberculosis and when to take their medicine correctly. Also, people suffering from Tuberculosis must make sure not to pass TB bacteria to other people near them.

However, TB education is unnecessary for patients, but it should be taught to the general public. Everyone needs to know the proper precautions for symptoms so that whenever an infected person arrives, they can take precautions to protect themselves.

Also, the outlook of your health is based on several things. It may even include your overall health and how severe the infection is. Even if the risk of TB is not so high or your health feels ok, you still need to go to your doctor and get a check-up.

Try to apply all means for TB prevention. Do not forget to follow the rules and guidelines if you have close contact with any TB patient. However, if you feel that you are affected or getting some of the symptoms, it is recommended to get a TB skin test and a blood test.

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While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. 

Do note that any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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