Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacteria known as mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and is transmitted from one person to another through the air. Most patients are often asymptomatic and noninfectious but do not experience any clinical illness during the early stages. This infection can last for a long time and may develop into clinical tuberculosis because of a weakened immune system. Certain groups of people who are at high risk of being infected may benefit from regular tuberculosis testing and undertaking preventive therapy programs, as they are critical to the prevention and control of tuberculosis. In this article, we will be looking at the importance of regular tuberculosis testing.
- Helps to Diagnose the Infection
Many people live with undetected tuberculosis for a long time before their symptoms become worse. Late detection of tuberculosis increases the risk of poor health outcomes and your family may suffer distress and economic hardship when you are isolated for treatment. Regular tuberculosis testing helps in early detection of TB and progress in controlling the infection. Early diagnosis helps to mitigate its consequences so that treatment can be administered during the early stages. The World Health Organization (WHO) has summarized the approaches, guidelines, and tools that can be used to improve early detection of tuberculosis. It presents a framework to assess the barriers and pathways for recognizing the infection from which interventions can be prioritized based on the status of a patient.
- Treatment of Individuals Who are Already Ill
After a patient has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, the next step is to provide treatment through effective medications that help to control the infection. During your physical exam, the physician uses a stethoscope to listen to the sound your lungs produce when you breathe. They also check your lymph nodes for any signs of swelling. A simple skin test is the common diagnostic tool for tuberculosis and the significance of the results is determined to allow for proper treatment. It is important to know that TB treatment often takes much longer than other types of bacterial infections. You may be required to take antibiotics for 6 to 9 months if you have active tuberculosis and the length of treatment will depend on your age, possible drug resistance, and overall health.
- Prevent Transmission of Tuberculosis
Eradicating tuberculosis is not just a matter of providing non-contaminated food and clean water supply but involves setting up an organized system for early detection, treatment and reducing transmission from one person to another. Limiting the transmission of tuberculosis may sound simple in theory but is an elusive goal for the health community since people need to receive treatment as soon as they contract it. Through regular tuberculosis testing, a doctor can recognize the infection and provide early treatment to prevent transmission of TB to other people around you.
- Identifying the Sources of TB in Young Children
The occurrence of tuberculosis infection in your children is a primary indicator of an ongoing Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission. Strategies used to prevent childhood TB include early detection and prompt initiation of treatment for adults with active tuberculosis. This helps to interrupt transmission since children are at a greater risk of developing the severe disease within a short period of infection. They are usually top priorities when singled out as contacts to infectious patients. Source-case investigations are conducted for newly diagnosed TB in children to ascertain the source of infection and reduce the ongoing transmission from infections persons.
Raise awareness of TB
Regular tuberculosis testing also helps to increase public awareness because more people get to know about tuberculosis and learn the importance of preventing the spread of the infection. Some doctors are specialized in treating and preventing the spread of TB as they have years of experience in identifying and treating the disease promptly to prevent transmission. Regular tuberculosis testing raises awareness about tuberculosis, the way it affects people and how to prevent it from spreading to other people.
Tuberculosis may seem like an obscure disease but it is a real threat for people in some countries where its symptoms are known and chances of succumbing to death are still high. Medications that are currently used are becoming less effective with the emergence of new resistant strains of TB. Tuberculosis infection is rampant and more common than you think since not all people who are infected are sick with active TB. A larger percentage of people usually has a walled-off bacteria embedded in their lungs but show no clinical illness. A very small percentage may develop active tuberculosis, which is highly contagious and can infect very many people before the infectious source is treated. Regular tuberculosis testing is very important as it helps to identify, treat and reduce transmission of tuberculosis from one person to another.