A breath of fresh air is a great thing, and on World TB (tuberculosis) Day, we’re reminded of the importance of breathing with confidence.
Each year on March 24, World TB Day raises public awareness and understanding about the disease. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, TB is a health threat that’s far from gone and still a major health risk around the globe. Approximately 15 million people in the U.S. are infected with the disease and without intervention, approximately 10% of those people will develop TB, and that can affect those of us living in the four-state region.
“Typically, babies and young children, people infected with HIV or chronic disease(s), the elderly, people with a compromised or weak immune system and those who spend long periods of time near others with TB are more at risk,” explained Grant Pierson, DO. “TB is a contagious infection that usually attaches to the lungs and can spread to other parts of the body such as the brain and spine. It’s transmitted from person to person in the air, often via coughing and sneezing, and people nearby may breathe in the bacteria and become infected.”
Those infected typically have had close, daily contact with someone who has the disease, such as a family member, friend or co-worker. You're not likely to get infected from someone coughing in line at the store or at a restaurant and items such as dishes, drinking glasses, clothing or sheets don’t spread TB. In most people who become infected, the body can fight the bacteria from growing. Then, the bacteria become inactive, although they remain alive in the body and can become active later. This is called latent TB infection (LTBI).
Many people who have latent TB infection never develop TB disease and the TB bacteria remain inactive for a lifetime without causing disease. In other people, especially those who have weak immune systems, the bacteria become active and cause TB disease. People with LTBI can take medicine so that they’ll never develop TB disease. Symptoms of TB commonly include coughing up phlegm or blood, having a consistent fever, night sweats, chest pain, unexplained weight loss and fatigue.
Breathing well is a blessing each and every day. If you think you are experiencing labored breathing or symptoms of TB, the Freeman Lung Institute can help you determine the healthiest options forward. The Lung Institute specializes in high-quality care and offers information on the latest treatment and therapy options to help their patients live a stronger life. Talk to your primary care physician about your lung health today or call our office at 417.347.8315 or visit freemanhealth.com/lung.