Back in the 1800’s, tuberculosis was responsible for one of every seven deaths. The word “tuberculosis” even has an old-time ring to it. As a result, some people believe it’s a disease that has been largely wiped out by modern medicine. While it’s true that treatments for tuberculosis (TB) did eventually make it quite rare in developed countries, it has not been eradicated. In fact, around 1985 there was a resurgence of TB cases in the United States. Though the number have begun going down again, it is still a concern. Because older adults typically have weaker immune systems, they are among the most at risk for TB.
What is TB?
TB is a contagious disease that is caused by bacteria. It primarily affects the lungs. There are two kinds of TB. They are:
- Latent TB: About 2 billion people are affected by latent TB. It does not cause any symptoms and cannot be spread. Instead, the bacteria exist in the body in an inactive form. However, without treatment, it can become active and spread.
- Active TB: Active TB causes the person to become ill. It is also contagious.
Symptoms of active TB can begin within a couple of weeks of being infected with the bacteria, or it could take years for symptoms to appear. Symptoms of active TB include:
- A cough that persists for three weeks or more.
- A cough that produces blood.
- Chest pain.
- Pain that occurs with breathing or coughing.
- Losing weight without trying.
- Night sweats.
- Loss of appetite.
How is it Spread?
TB is an airborne disease. This means it is passed from person to person through respiratory droplets. They are expelled from the infected person when they speak, cough, or sing. Once the bacteria are in the air, people near the infected individual can breathe them in and become infected themselves.
If your older family member contracts TB, you can prevent the spread by taking these steps:
- Keep the senior at home during treatment until the doctor indicates they are no longer contagious.
- Make sure the room the senior is staying in is ventilated.
- Remind the older adult to cough or sneeze into a tissue and discard it immediately afterward in a sealed bag.
- Have the older adult wear a mask when they are around other people, such as caregivers.
Senior care providers can assist with the care of an older adult who has TB and help to prevent the spread of the disease. Senior care providers can remind the older adult to take medications to treat TB and drive them to follow-up medical appointments. Senior care providers are trained and experienced in taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of diseases, so you can be assured that they will do everything possible to help your older family member take steps to avoid spreading TB.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Senior Care in Pittsburg, KS please contact the caring staff at Adelmo Family Care today at (417) 206-4576.