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Understanding Tuberculosis

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Image is from CDC

Tuberculosis, TB, is an airborne bacterial infection. While other organs and tissues may be involved, it normally affects the lungs first.

What You Need To Know

While most people who have TB are not contagious, the disease is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, laughs, sings, or talks. If you are nearby and breath in those germs, there is a chance that you can become infected.

There is a difference between having active TB disease and being infected, known as latent TB. Latent TB is diagnosed when you have the TB germs in your body, but your immune system is strong enough to keep you from getting sick, and you are not contagious.

However, if you are diagnosed with active TB disease, you will have symptoms and you will be contagious. Therefore, it is critical to see a doctor right away.

Unfortunately, there are some forms of TB that are not eliminated with the usual medications prescribed. That means the TB germs in your body are resistant to them. These types of TB are classified as MDR TB and XDR TB.

MDR TB (multi-drug resistant) is resistant to the standard medication regime for active TB and is more serious. XDR TB is resistant to both standard and secondary drugs for treatment and any treatment rendered can be longer, expensive and more difficult. These forms of TB occur when medication is mismanaged or misused. For example:

  • If you do not complete the full course of treatment
  • If your doctor prescribes the wrong treatment, dose, or duration.
  • If medication is not available
  • If medication is of poor quality

It is more common in people who:

  • Do not take their medication regularly
  • Do not take medications for the full duration of treatment
  • Contract it a second time
  • Come from places where drug-resistant TB is more common
  • Have been around someone who has it

The good news is it is not easy to contract TB. You usually have to be close to someone infected for a long time. This is why it is often spread between family members, coworkers, and close friends.

What TB Does To Your Body

If you have a weakened immune system, you are at greater risk for developing TB. Some examples of conditions, treatments, and ages that cause weakened immunity are:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Leukemia
  • Viral Hepatitis
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Getting Chemotherapy
  • Elderly
  • Children under the age of 5

If you any of the above apply, the bacteria associated with TB is likely to settle in your lungs and start growing right away, because your immune system isn’t strong enough to fight it off. The disease will develop quickly, within days or weeks. If you are healthy and contract TB, it may take months, or even years to develop.

While TB attacks the lungs, it can also invade other parts of the body, such as:

  • Spine
  • Brain
  • Kidneys
  • Bones
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Skin

This is because the bacteria can move from the lungs through the blood and lymphatic systems. Symptoms of active disease include:

  • Cough
  • Weight Loss
  • Night Sweats
  • Fever
  • Chills

If other parts of the body are infected, symptoms specific to that area will occur. For example, if it has spread to your bones, you will have bone pain.

Despite what many people think, TB is not a disease of the past. About one third of the world’s population are infected. That is almost 2.5 billion people. Of those people 9.6 million have active TB. It is curable, however. Therefore it is important to recognize the symptoms, see a doctor right away, and follow the treatment ordered.

 

 

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Understanding Polio

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Image is from GOOD Magazine

Poliomyelitis, popularly known as polio is a crippling, infectious and potentially harmful viral infection transmitted by the poliovirus. The virus can spread from a person to another and acts swift once in the body, infecting the brain and spinal cord.

The result is paralysis and potential death. Even though the virus isn’t common in most developed countries, polio could me a menace to people who travel out of the country often.

Poliovirus Transmission and Infection

The primary mode of transmission is via person-to-person contact. The virus resides in the human mouth or intestines meaning that it can be transmitted through contact with human excrement even in the tiniest bit.

A less common infection route is by inhaling sneeze or cough droplets. Any traces of feces in your hands when touching your mouth or putting infected items like toys into your mouth could lead to an infection.

Since infected people can be carriers for up to two weeks, it is hard to know who to avoid as apparently healthy people could be a threat. This combined with the fact that the virus can live out of the human body for weeks means that the risk of infection from contaminated food or water is very high especially in low sanitation areas.

Popular Poliovirus infection Symptoms

Most of the people with the poliovirus will show no visible symptoms. Worse still, up almost 25 percent of the infected will have nothing more than flu-like symptoms. These could be

  • A sore throat
  • Fever, nausea and tiredness
  • Headache and stomach pain

These symptoms could linger for a week or so before they ebb depending on whether your immune system was strong enough to fight off the virus or not.

If unaddressed the virus could develop into serious brain and spinal cord injury causing:

  • A constant feeling of pins and needles in your legs (paresthesia)
  • Meningitis (the infection of the spinal cord, brain or both)
  • Paralysis

Paralysis is the worst of the poliovirus infection symptoms. If the patient is lucky, the paralysis could affects limbs leaving the person disabled. In rare but more severe cases, the virus could affect core muscles, for instance muscles controlling your breathing hence leading to death.

When Does the Poliovirus Infection Become Polio?

Poliomyelitis, by definition, is a paralytic disease. Consequently, only people whose poliovirus infection results into paralytic disease are technically considered to have the disease.

With no actual control over how the virus will react once in the human body, it is always safe to stay clear of the virus.

Poliovirus Infection Prevention

As with most viral infections, preventing the infection is always better than trying to cure it. As of to date, there is no known cure for polio. The best medicine can offer to infected individuals is:

  • A proper nutritious diet
  • Bed rest with pain relievers
  • Moderate physical therapy to keep the muscles working
  • Drugs and medication to control the virus’ spread and effect

While things like improved sanitation and personal hygiene might reduce the spread of the virus, it is wise to take the polio virus at the designated times. There is a total of four shots in the regime.

  • When two months old
  • When four months old
  • Six to 18 months old
  • Between four and six years

Adults could also consider taking the vaccine when traveling to high prevalence areas. Even though the immunity gathered from childhood vaccines would be enough to keep you safe as long as you live, it would do you no harm to get an extra shot when you can.

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