Health Tips for Living with Tuberculosis

Medically reviewed by | By

Update Date 13/07/2020 . 4 mins read
Share now

In the 18th and 19th century, pulmonary tuberculosis had widely spread across North America and Europe. After the discovery of antibiotics and the improved standards of living of the general population, this disease became treatable. In time, the spread of tuberculosis was controlled.  

But according to the World Health Organization (WHO), tuberculosis remains the world’s top infectious killer. About 10 million people contract tuberculosis every year. And an estimated 1.5 million people die from this condition. This is also the leading cause of death among people who are afflicted with the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.

Pulmonary tuberculosis remains a worldwide problem, despite the many studies that support its cure and prevention. Considering the many people who are affected by this, the question remains: how is it living with pulmonary tuberculosis

What happens once someone is diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis: All You Need To Know

What is pulmonary tuberculosis?

Pulmonary tuberculosis is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis. This is a type of bacteria that attacks the lungs. It is a contagious and airborne infection. And it can also spread to other parts of the body, destroying tissue.

There are two types of pulmonary tuberculosis: latent tuberculosis and active tuberculosis. 

About a third of the world’s population could possibly be living with pulmonary tuberculosis, but does not develop symptoms.

This is called latent TB. This means that the bacteria is present in the body, but the immune system is able to control it. Though it is not contagious, latent TB may one day become active.

Only 10% to 20% of that population develops active TB.

This means the immune system has been compromised and the bacteria multiplies, making them sick. Symptoms of active TB can vary and may develop slowly.

Those living with pulmonary tuberculosis may experience the following:

  • Bad, chronic cough lasting for at least 3 weeks
  • Chest pain
  • Cough with blood
  • Breathlessness
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills or night sweats

8 Signs and Symptoms of Tuberculosis to Watch Out For

How to manage pulmonary tuberculosis

Once diagnosed through a skin test or a blood test, treatment will follow. This depends on the type of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Those with latent TB may take medication to kill the bacteria. These can also prevent progression to active TB.

When diagnosed with active TB, the doctor will typically prescribe medication for 6 months, along with directly observed therapy (DOT).

Directly Observed Therapy (DOT)

DOT is a doctor-prescribed approach that ensures that completion of treatment. Because if the prescribed doses are skipped, this can make the person living with pulmonary tuberculosis resistant to medicine. With DOT, a healthcare professional helps administer medication every day or several times a week.

For those living with pulmonary tuberculosis but are not on DOT, there is still a workaround for this. It is important to make a schedule and not miss a dose of medicine when undergoing treatment. Below are a few tips to help one remember to take the prescribed medication:

  • Take your prescribed medication at the same time every day.
  • Indicate taking the medication on a calendar.
  • Ask for help and allow someone to give reminders in taking the medicine every day.
  • Be organized and keep the medicine in a pill organizer and within reach. 

Possible Side Effects of TB Treatment

Within the treatment period of active TB, regular visits to the doctor is still important. This will help determine if the medication given is working well. The body’s reaction to medicine can vary from person-to-person living with pulmonary tuberculosis.

Here are a few of the known side effects that are associated with the medication taken:

  • Loss of appetite wherein one can also experience an upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting
  • Experiencing weakness, fatigue, or fever for more than three days.
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Itchy skin with the presence of rashes or bruising
  • Yellowish skin or eyes, and changes in eyesight or blurred vision
  • Dark-colored urine

Aside from consistently taking medication on time while living with pulmonary tuberculosis, it is also important to limit contact with others. Refrain from going to crowded places and wear a surgical mask around people, especially during the first weeks of treatment. Remember to always cover your mouth when coughing, sneezing, or even laughing. 

living with pulmonary tuberculosis

Preventing the spread of TB

Pulmonary tuberculosis is airborne so one can get the infection by breathing the air by someone who has it.

Coughing, sneezing, laughing, or even singing can expel airborne droplets. It takes several hours for germs to stay in the air.

So, it is possible to get infected even if the person living with pulmonary tuberculosis has left the room. 

It may not be easy to acquire pulmonary tuberculosis, but there are factors that could raise the risk of getting the infection.

The following are high-risk circumstances:

  • Living with a friend, co-worker, or family member who has active TB
  • Travelling to countries where pulmonary tuberculosis is common. These countries include Russia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean
  • Working in a hospital or nursing home
  • Being a smoker

Being close to someone living with pulmonary tuberculosis may seem scary. But there are ways to protect oneself even if living in high-risk situations. Here are a few tips to protect oneself from acquiring the infection: 

  • Avoid extended close contact with the person living with pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Air out rooms regularly and refrain from staying in an infected person’s room
  • Wear a mask that can provide ample protection against TB

Key Takeaways

Getting diagnosed with active TB or even latent TB may cause a little worry. The treatment process takes a while, and there is the possibility of becoming immune to the medication for it. But if the medication is taken as prescribed, one can get treated. Remember that this disease is curable and preventable, and living with pulmonary tuberculosis is possible. 

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Was this article helpful for you ?
happy unhappy

You might also like

Chronic Bronchitis: Causes and Risk Factors

Chronic bronchitis can lead to debilitating complications. Is it possible to eliminate the chronic bronchitis causes? Find out here.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Bronchitis 22/10/2020 . 3 mins read

Obstructive vs Restrictive Lung Disease

Can you spot the difference between obstructive vs restrictive lung disease? Here's what you need to know about the two types of lung conditions.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jean Daquinag
Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao
Other Respiratory Issues 22/10/2020 . 4 mins read

Flu Body Aches but No Fever: Is It Possible?

Is it possible for a person to have flu body aches but no fever? And why do you experience trangkaso body pain when you have the flu?

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Jan Alwyn Batara
Influenza 14/10/2020 . 3 mins read

Tuberculosis Treatment in the Philippines: What You Need to Know

If you or someone you love has pulmonary TB, here's what you need to know about the tuberculosis treatment in the Philippines.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jean Daquinag
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Tuberculosis 06/10/2020 . 4 mins read

Recommended for you

emphysema and phlegm

Emphysema and Phlegm: Management Tips

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jean Daquinag
Written by Den Alibudbud
Published on 15/12/2020 . 3 mins read
What Need to Know About Bronchiectasis

What You Need to Know About Bronchiectasis

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Kip Soliva
Published on 14/12/2020 . 4 mins read
tb prevention strategies

TB Prevention Strategies: Tips to Avoid Tuberculosis

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Karla Pascua
Published on 13/12/2020 . 3 mins read
tuberculosis causes to avoid

Tuberculosis Causes to Avoid and Who’s Most at Risk

Medically reviewed by January Velasco, M.D.
Written by Kip Soliva
Published on 04/12/2020 . 3 mins read