One of the good things about working in home health care is being able to offer palliative care to residents of Woodland Hills and elsewhere who dealing with a wide variety of health conditions, everything from common illnesses like the flu to ones that people are less familiar with.
In recent years, a growing number of health providers and nurses have been treating their patients for something that was once widespread, then nearly wiped out, and now seems to be back again.
The condition is called tuberculosis, a respiratory infection that the staff at Accredited Home Care wants to make sure everyone is aware of, starting with our home health care team as well as any patients and their families who use our services.
Because many of us think of tuberculosis as something from the past, like the sanitariums in the 1930s or maybe an Old West tragedy, it’s easy not to be aware that it still can affect people today. If untreated, TB can damage the lungs and other parts of the body, and in some cases can be fatal.
This season is a good opportunity to learn more about TB, whether you’re a patient, a loved one of a patient, a health care provider or a home health care provider.
March 24 has been declared World TB Day, a date that is recognized by the U.S. and global public health agencies.
The date commemorates March 24, 1882, when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he found the specific bacteria that are responsible for a mysterious disease that was killing many people. Though it took several years to create specific medications and therapies to fight TB, Dr. Koch’s discovery helped advance research into this area that still continues.
Today, the Centers for Disease Control and other health organizations encourage people to take the opportunity to learn more about TB worldwide, including programs designed to prevent it and why resources are still needed.
Although there are certainly other critical health issues in our world, the CDC and others don’t want people to think that TB is only a disease from the distant past, and not take proper steps to seek help if they encounter it. Or worse, they don’t want someone who has TB and doesn’t realize to run the risk of unwittingly infecting others, possibly causing an epidemic.
With the theme of “It’s Time,” 2020 World TB Day invites people to learn more about TB and also offers them a variety of useful online resources to help recognize the symptoms easier and treat it better.
LVNs are also encouraged to seek out this info, which would be useful since it’s likely that they will encounter TB patients in the future.
For those who aren’t sure about TB, it’s an infectious disease that starts in the lungs and can then sometimes spread through the body. What’s especially concerning is that it can be spread by direct contact as well as airborne such as a sneeze or cough that’s not covered.
More than 13 million Americans are believed to have latent TB, according to the CDC.
The American Lung Association said that actual infection from TB doesn’t always take place from people who are in close contact with each other, and it sometimes can take weeks for someone in close proximity to fully pass it on. B TB is an infectious disease that affects the lungs and then may spread to other parts of the body. It can be spread through the air, such as an uncovered sneeze, or direct contact with someone who has it.
Treatment methods can include various medications and therapy. An early suggestion was for people to spend more time outside in the sun – although sunlight alone wasn’t the best cure, the dry air did help.
As treatment evolved, rates of TB declined significantly, and by the 1970s, it was mostly wiped out. However, it began to increase starting in less developed and dense countries in Africa and Asia. Factors that seem to promote its spread include poor education, high poverty, poor nutrition, and limited health services. Areas with high rates of HIV/AIDS also seem to be more susceptible.
Part of the challenges with TB is that you may not know you’re infected right away. Symptoms may show up weeks, months, even years after you’re infected. However, you can still spread it to others before you start showing symptoms.
This is part of the reason why TB is especially dangerous to seniors or people with weaker immune systems.
They may have had been exposed to TB in the past, but the infection stayed in their body without becoming active. However, other mental and physical stresses and conditions may weaken their system, allowing the TB to emerge. Then they’ll have even more of a medical challenge ahead of them.
Many seniors often have weaker immune systems than younger people, so it takes them longer to fight off something if they are exposed to it.
Seniors will appreciate any advice from home health care professionals about avoiding TB or dealing with it if it is diagnosed.