Today, Tuberculosis (TB) is the ninth leading cause of death worldwide. But since 2000, 53 million lives have been saved through effective diagnosis and treatment. These statistics prove that TB is a curable disease and a lot can be done to control the epidemic.
The development of various new and precise diagnostic tests has helped in early and accurate diagnosis of TB for immediate treatment to prevent its spread. Moreover, the active participation of the medical fraternity has also proved to be an asset in the management of this life-threatening disease.
What should be the aim while treating TB?
TB management requires a well-thought out plan that helps in achieving the following goals:
- Curing the patient
- Preventing the spread of TB
- Arresting the development of drug-resistant TB
Various combinations of drugs are given to patients to kill the bacteria that causes Tuberculosis – Mycobacterium tuberculosis. But one hindrance is that TB bacteria die very slowly and the drugs have to be taken for quite a long time, till all the bacteria are killed and the patient is declared cured.
Can TB be totally cured?
In most patients, TB can be cured with appropriate treatment. Treatment varies from patient to patient and consists of several different antibiotic drugs given for 6-12 months. In addition, its cure also relies on close coordination between patient and doctor so that the right amount of medicine is taken for the right amount of time. Partial or inconsistent treatment is a growing challenge and can result in drug-resistant TB. These strains of TB are challenging to manage and can only be treated by approaches that are much more expensive to administer and more toxic for the patient.
Common medications used to treat active TB include:
- Isoniazid (INH)
- Rifampin (RIF)
Points to remember during TB treatment:
- All the drugs must be taken for the entire period of TB treatment.
- Abandoning some medicines or taking only one or two TB drugs may not kill all the bacteria, and TB will not be cured.
- In drug-resistant cases, if the patient becomes sick again, different TB drugs may be needed.
- All patients receiving TB treatment should be regularly monitored to assess their response to the drugs and the treatment – this is to check any adverse events and ensure that treatment is completed.
- Patients also need to take adequate food.
Though TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease; a 12 percent drop has been seen in the number of TB deaths in India . The disease can be cured completely, but patients must follow strict treatment routines to achieve this goal.