Many people might think of tuberculosis as a thing of the past, but you can be assured that this once-devastating disease is still alive and well. Although it saw a massive outbreak in the 20th century, in today’s society, tuberculosis is more rare, and more treatable.
Tuberculosis, an infectious lung disease, is spread by airborne germs. One must usually be in contact with these germs for a long time before they can grow and the person becomes sick. When they do become sick, though, treatment consists of taking antibiotics for six to nine months to fight off the infection.
Some people, once infected, have a latent form of the infection. This means that they have TB germs, but the illness itself hasn’t fully manifested yet. It is dormant, and they are not contagious. If left untreated, though, the illness can become active at any time, most often when one’s immune system is compromised for other reasons.
In others, the illness manifests itself right away, and the person has symptoms and is ill immediately.
When it comes to tuberculosis, like most illnesses, some people are more at risk than others. Let’s take a look at some of the things that can put your aging loved one at risk for TB.
- Not getting treatment for latent TB – Even though the tuberculosis infection is dormant, it is not safe to let it just sit in one’s system for months or even years. Not treating latent TB can quickly lead to active TB when the germs grow and change.
- Having a weakened immune system – People whose immune systems have already been weakened by another medical problem or by age have a higher risk of contracting TB, because their immune system isn’t strong enough to fight it off. This risk goes up even more in people with HIV, whose immune systems are extremely compromised.
- Coming into frequent contact with someone who has tuberculosis – Tuberculosis is normally spread among families or coworkers, because in order to catch it, one must breathe in the germs exhaled by someone with TB for an extended period of time. If someone in your family, your elder care aide, or someone else that your aging loved one comes into contact with often has tuberculosis, your loved one’s risk of developing the disease themselves is much, much higher.
- Having existing conditions – Having existing illnesses that compromise one’s strength and immune system such as diabetes, kidney disease, and drug addiction can put one at a great risk for contracting TB. Having cancer puts one at risk as well, especially if one is receiving chemotherapy, which weakens the body as it attempts to kill the cancer-causing agent.
If your elderly loved one can relate to any of the things described above, they might be at a higher risk of tuberculosis. If you or their elder care aide notice any symptoms like a chronic cough, coughing up blood, fever, and fatigue, it might be time to see a doctor to find out if tuberculosis is the culprit.
If you are considering hiring elder care in Ashland, Ohio, call the caring staff at Central Star Home Health at (419) 610-2161. Providing services for families in Mansfield, Lexington, Bellville, Mt. Gilead, Loudonville, Crestline, Galion, Shelby, Ashland, Wooster, and the surrounding areas.