Pune: With over two lakh deaths attributed to it annually, tuberculosis is a major health burden in India that needs to be controlled imminently. Apart from raising awareness about its diagnosis and treatment, it is also important to spread awareness about the need for maintaining healthy lifestyles and nutrition levels to bolster the body’s defences against the disease.
As we observe World TB Day doctors at Columbia Asia Hospitals, Pune inform that TB bacillus is widely prevalent in India, with almost 8 out of 10 people carrying the dormant bacteria. A major key to fighting off these bacteria is strengthening the body’s immune defences, by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Doctors say poor nutrition and unhealthy lifestyles can up your risk of Tuberculosis by 50% of total TB cases.
We hear a lot of talk about Tuberculosis, and the need to treat the last infected person. However, not much is spoken about the need for prevention. In many cases, a healthy lifestyle can help an individual save himself/herself from the potentially dangerous bacteria. Since TB bacillus is widely prevalent in India, Indians are highly exposed to the bacteria everywhere. If you are weak, your nutrition levels poor, and you lead unhealthy lifestyles that further weaken your body, you become an easy prey to it. On the other hand, if you maintain healthy lifestyles and keep your immune system healthy, your body may even fight off the bacteria, says Dr. Vaibhav Pandharka, Pulmonologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune.
Most of us tend to believe that Tuberculosis is a disease that largely affects poor people living in slums and unhygienic conditions. While the disease does affect more people from economically poor strata, well-off people are certainly not immune to it.
Students living in hostels where they share space with several others, people travelling daily in crowded public transport, living in houses with inadequate ventilation with absence of sunlight in congested cities are all highly prone to catch TB infection. Such living conditions make it easy for the bacteria to stay alive for longer duration and spread easily. If your immunity weakens, the dormant bacteria can become active and attack your body. This is why it is very essential to maintain healthy eating and living habits, adds Dr. Vaibhav Pandharkar.
Having a weakened immune system doesn’t mean you will contract TB. But it means that become more vulnerable to the infection, especially if you are exposed to someone who is coughing out TB bacteria. You can encounter such patients anywhere – in a crowded train or metro, in a marketplace, in a classroom or a crowded hostel accommodation.
Poor diet, low consumption of fruits and vegetables, high stress levels, lack of sleep and exercise are factors that weaken the body against illnesses. Similarly, pregnant women, children and elderly people also have weak immune systems that make them more susceptible to infections present in the environment. Smoking and consuming excessive alcohol can also augment your risk.
“At the same time, if you have been coughing for more than three weeks, have recurrent fever, fatigue or experienced weight loss make sure you report your symptoms to a doctor and have yourself examined and screened. Complete and timely treatment of tuberculosis is important in not only curing the patient but also preventing the spread of the disease, adds Dr. Vaibhav Pandharkar.