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5 ways to prevent tuberculosis

Number of deaths due to TB is rising. Be aware and prevent the spread of the disease with these tips

Written by Shraddha Rupavate |Updated : February 25, 2015 1:39 PM IST

tuberculosisAccording to recent updates, there is a huge disparity between the recorded number of deaths due to tuberculosis (TB) in data from BMC's public health department and the RTI, in Mumbai. While the BMC's data shows a lower number of deaths, the RTI data compiled by the NGO Praja Foundation shows much higher numbers.

Irrespective of whether the number is lower or higher, the update clearly highlights that tuberculosis still remains a threat and more and more people are getting afflicted with it. TB, being an infectious disease, requires stringent prevention strategies to reduce the spread of the disease and lower the number of deaths. Here are some things you need to keep in mind.

1. Vaccination: All new born and infants should be given the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine to protect them against TB. The vaccine enables the child to develop antibodies against the causative organism (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) of TB.

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2. Keep your immunity high: Most of you might have come in contact with TB bacilli but have not developed the disease because of protection offered by vaccination you received in childhood. However, the vaccine cannot provide life-long protection. That's why people with a lowered immunity are at a higher risk of infection. Therefore, a healthy lifestyle is important to prevent TB. Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Eat a complete meal that includes carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Quit smoking and drinking alcohol, exercise regularly and stay fit.

3. Maintain good hygiene: 'Simple hygienic practices like covering the mouth while coughing, refraining from spitting in public places are still ignored by people, including those infected with TB,' says Dr Pradip Shah, consultant physician at Fortis Hospital, Mulund. Good hygiene plays an important role in preventing. So, wash your hands before eating and make it a point to drink clean water. If you are around someone you know is suffering from TB, avoid direct contact with them. Hospital staff should wear protective masks and gloves around patients with TB. Avoid visiting crowded and unhygienic places.

4. Go to the right kind of specialist: Early diagnosisand treatmentis the key to lower the number of deaths due to TB. If you notice any of the symptoms of TB, visit a doctor immediately. If your cough is persistent, it's better to consult a specialist. According to leading pulmonologist Dr Kapil Salgia, healthcare should empahsise consulting the right kind of specialists to treat the disease.

5. Adherence to medication: One of the major reasons for the increase in the number of deaths is the development of drug-resistant TB. For this reason, people who have the infection are actually the carriers of the disease. 'When they don't adhere to the prescription, it gives an opportunity to TB bacteria to develop resistance to the drugs. When these resistant bacilli are expelled into air, they can be taken in by healthy individuals. This is how challenging cases of multiple drug resistant TB (MDR TB) are increased, causing more and more deaths,' says Dr Kapil Salgia, consultant pulmonologist. So, if you are taking treatment for TB, you do play an important role in preventing the spread of the disease. All you need to do is, complete the prescribed course of treatment.

Image source: Getty Images

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