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What Parents Should Know about Tuberculosis

Parents these days have a lot of things to keep track of. There are more learning opportunities for kids, and there are new sports and activities to try. But there are also a long list of medical risks and dangers to be aware of. It’s common for parents to feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information there is to take in. Knowing how to spot certain illnesses in children is one of those challenges, and it seems like a big task – but the more parents understand about common illnesses, the better their changes of recognizing these illnesses in children.

Tuberculosis is one of those medical conditions that a lot of people associate with the past – but not so much the present. After all, it used to be a much more devastating and widespread condition than it is today. It’s also true that rates of Tuberculosis are much higher in developing countries. But there are still thousands of cases in the United States every year (the total in 2016 was over 9,000 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); so it’s worth knowing as much as possible about this condition.

What exactly is Tuberculosis?

TB is a bacterial infection that most commonly affects the lungs, but can affect other areas of the body also. When TB goes untreated, it proves fatal for around half of all infected individuals – that’s why it’s so important to be properly diagnosed and treated if TB is present.

How is it spread?

TB is an airborne pathogen that gets spread when infected individuals cough, sneeze or spit. The bacteria can even be spread by speaking.

What are the symptoms?

In terms of symptoms, TB generally produces a heavy and chronic cough. Fever, weight loss, night sweat, and bloody sputum are also common symptoms. If TB spreads to other organs, the effects and symptoms are wide-ranging.

How is it treated?

Because TB is a bacterial infection, it’s treated aggressively with antibiotics. However, strains of TB have appeared in recent years that are more resistant to antibiotics. This is a growing concern in the medical world, especially in areas where rates of TB infection are still high.

What is latent TB?

It’s estimated that most cases of TB infection are “latent,” meaning they produce no symptoms. However, around one in ten cases of latent TB will develop into a full TB infection.

Where to go for TB diagnosis

Statistically, TB affects adults more often than children – but it’s still very much possible for children to catch TB. If you think your child may be showing signs of tuberculosis, what’s your best option? Depending on where you live, there’s probably a reputable urgent care center, such as Family First in either Oakhurst or Toms River which can easily handle the diagnosis and initial treatment of TB. You can also get right in without an appointment, and without waiting long. Urgent care is generally a great option for timely medical treatment for any illness or injury that is not life threatening. If you think an illness or injury may be life threatening, head straight for the emergency department.

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