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Who’s At Risk For Tuberculosis (TB)?

 

Worldwide, millions of people die from tuberculosis (TB) every year. Philippines is one of the top seven countries with the most number of TB patients.

TB is caused by bacteria known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria normally affect the lungs; however they can also affect other organs of the body.

How Does Someone Get Tuberculosis?

When a person inhales air containing tiny particles of infected sputum, he or she can get tuberculosis infection.

When the infected person coughs, shouts, sneezes or spits, bacteria can mix with the air. Anyone who is nearby can inhale bacteria.

TB is not spread by shaking hands or touching the infected person. It is mainly transmitted by breathing the droplets during nearby contact.

What Are The Risk Factors For Tuberculosis?

Some individuals develop tuberculosis right after getting infected within a few days while others develop the disease after years, when their immunity becomes weak due to other causes.

Generally, around 5 to 10% of infected people get sick if they did not seek treatment for their TB infection.

People with weak immune systems like those with HIV infection are at high risk of developing TB than persons with normal immunity.

Mostly, people at high risk for developing TB disease can be divided into two groups:

  1. People who are infected with TB bacteria
  2. People with health problems that have weakened immunity

People Who Are Infected With TB Bacteria

This group refers to:

  • People who are in close contact with TB-infected persons
  • People who have moved from countries with more TB patients
  • Kids who are less than 5 years old with a positive TB test
  • Groups with high amount of TB transmission, including HIV infected persons, homeless people and people who use drug injections.
  • People who live or work with sick people are more susceptible; such as the ones working in hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centres

People With Health Problems That Weaken Their Immunity

Infants and young children frequently have weak immunity. Others can have weak immunity too, specifically persons with any of these conditions:

  • HIV infection
  • Drug abuse
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Silicosis
  • Organ transplants
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Low body weight
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Medical treatments like organ transplants or corticosteroids
  • Special treatment for Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis

 

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-Medical Observer

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