World Tuberculosis Day is observed on March 24 every year to help spread awareness about the disease, communicate prevention measures and precautions as well as to commemorate efforts undertaken against the disease.
The date was earmarked due to the discovery of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacterium due to which TB is caused, by German microbiologist Dr Robert Koch in 1882, when the disease had much of Europe and America under its grip. At the 100th anniversary of the discovery, in 1982, the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) suggested that the day be observed as World Tuberculosis Day.
Here are 10 things you need to know about the disease:
1. HIV patients are at a very high risk of TB.
According to experts, the probability of the disease is higher in HIV patients, as their immune system is weaker than others. Most HIV deaths occur due to TB.
2. It is an air-pollution borne disease.
City pollution is one of the major causes of tuberculosis. Stray dust on roads as well as fine dirt particles from construction sites can enter your lungs and aggravate chances of tuberculosis.
3. TB spreads by air.
Tuberculosis can spread by being in the infectious air as the disease is an infectious one whose bacteria travel through air droplets, by way of coughing or sneezing by an infected person. Therefore, a person who is infected should always avoid crowded, closes spaces and shift to an open environment immediately.
4. You might have TB and not know it.
According to statistics, about 2.3 billion people in the world have TB, but many may never know that they have it. Due to a condition called latent tuberculosis, the person infected might never experience severe symptoms or be hazardous to others, but the germs will simply stay in the body.
5. But fret not, you can fight it.
However, in only 5-10 per cent of people does the TB bacteria become industrious. These people can spread the disease to other people as the bacteria is active.
6. TB is mostly found in under-developed nations.
Mostly, TB is found in underdeveloped countries, especially in the Africa, Asia, Latin America, or Russia regions. Close to 1.5 million people die from the disease every year. TB is found to be very common in shelters for homeless people, prisons, hospitals and nursing homes, immigration settlements, etc.
7. TB can affect more than just your lungs.
Usually, TB attacks the lungs but other organs such as the brain or the kidneys can fall prey to the disease too.
8. Coughing, cold sweats, can be vital symptoms.
Symptoms include coughing that lasts for more than two or three week, at times with blood, chest pain, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, weakness, fever at night, sweating in cool weather, shortness of breath, whistle-like sound while breathing, etc.
9. I have TB, what do I do now?
In case you have tuberculosis, you should stop tobacco and alcohol intake immediately, lessen caffeine consumption, decrease eating refined food items such as white rice, sugar, white bread, etc., avoid red meat or other cholesterol inducing items. You should also visit a doctor immediately.
10. What to eat, what to stay away from.
What you should eat, however, are poultry products, fish, wheat-based products, dark-green vegetables such as kale, spinach, beans, broccoli and the like, vegetables naturally occurring in bright colours, such as carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes and fruits such as blueberries, cherries, etc., as these are rich in anti-oxidants.