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The cold season has once again brought in many different kinds of illnesses. Aside from the usual colds, coughs, and flu, other respiratory diseases such as pneumonia may take place—or may become worse.
One condition that may spread is tuberculosis (TB)—an airborne infectious illness that could proliferate depending on climatic conditions such as dew point temperature, relative humidity, and ambient temperature that impact water droplet production.
According to Dr. Sharon Azenith O. Laurel, a General Practitioner and a Medical Officer IV at the Department of Health Central Visayas Center for Health Development at Osmeňa Blvd in Cebu City, the cold season may increase a patient’s vulnerability to other common diseases, and sometimes aggravate the cough and other symptoms.
“However, these can be prevented if the TB patient diligently complies with the medications prescribed by medical professionals and observes a healthy lifestyle to boost immunity,” she said.
Dr. Laurel further explained that TB is “an infectious disease and should be dealt with immediately” before a patient infects others, or their condition deteriorates, which may lead to death. TB is preventable and curable with early detection and appropriate management.
“With all these considered, TB should be promptly acted upon regardless of the season. Patients should always be educated about tuberculosis, its management, complications, and prevention for their understanding about their condition and they can even impart this knowledge to their family and friends,” she said.
To help Filipinos with TB deal with the cold season, Dr. Laurel shared the following tips:
- TB patients should comply strictly to medications that are prescribed by their physicians and should never miss a single dose throughout the prescribed treatment duration.
- TB patients should never self-medicate or interrupt or discontinue treatment, especially if they have felt better after a few doses of medications taken.
- TB patients should seek regular consultation with their healthcare worker and immediately get evaluated and assessed for any signs and symptoms experienced while ongoing anti-TB treatment or any untoward events that may directly or indirectly be related to treatment.
- TB patients should not be hopping from one health facility to another for any adverse drug reactions or non-resolution of the initial condition. Rather, inform their healthcare worker and seek permission if there is a need to be seen by another health facility or medical professionals for further evaluation and management.
- Every TB patient should inform their healthcare worker of any comorbidity and other maintenance medications to determine if these can be co-administered with the anti-TB medications or if there is a need for a regimen modification.
- TB patients should live a healthy lifestyle. Have enough sleep, eat healthy, drink plenty of water and avoid vices such as drinking or smoking.
“The cold season predisposes everyone, not just people affected with TB, to pulmonary diseases, most commonly the usual flu, and other diseases,” Dr. Laurel said. “That is why it is best to live a healthy lifestyle, have enough sleep, drink plenty of water, eat healthy with the right amount of fruits and vegetables. As much as possible, avoid vices or initially lessen the frequency of smoking or drinking and other unnecessary vice. It is also very important to emphasize that those diagnosed to have TB are most likely immunocompromised and therefore more vulnerable to getting infected with other diseases.”
The cold season may or not be a bother to people, but those with TB should continue exercising caution to better protect themselves. Whether it is getting tested or continuing their treatment, the fight against TB continues—whether the weather may be warm or cold.
For more information about TB, visit https://tbfree.ph/. This includes an online self-assessment tool to help with TB identification and treatment. It may also be used to check for suspected TB, and locate the nearest health facility.
The https://tbfree.ph/ is part of the Department of Health (DOH)'s local communication campaign, Para Healthy Lungs, KonsulTayo, which is supported by USAID's TB Innovations and Health Systems Project (TB IHSS). It aims to raise tuberculosis as a public health priority in the country using social and conventional media methods.
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Editor’s Note: This article was provided by FHI 360 .