SIX MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT TB IN MALAWI

Like most diseases, Tuberculosis (TB) also has its own misconceptions and myths that people come up with. This is a list of the most common misconceptions and the facts about it.

  1. TB patients are HIV positive
  2. Due to the way TB was introduced in the early year’s people have the conception that if you have TB then you are HIV Positive. That is further from the truth, not everyone who is suffering from TB has HIV. However, an HIV positive person has a higher chance of suffering from TB because the virus weakens their immune system which makes them prone to TB. Other people who are at higher risk include; miners, malnourished people, prisoners, children, elderly people, and smokers.

  3. TB is not curable
  4. For years’ people held the belief that once one gets TB then they will die as TB is not curable. However, TB is very much curable because medication has been available ever since the 1950’s and they have been modified overtime. The truth is; TB IS VERY CURABLE as long as one adheres to treatment.

  5. TB is genetic
  6. Most people believe that TB is hereditary (genetically transferred) disease, because several members of the same household would end up suffering from it. In 1882, Sir Robert Kock crushed that family myth; he discovered that the real culprit – was a germ, which can attack simply anyone and is airborne. So, heredity or genes have simply no role but due to the fact that families living in the same house share a lot of space together it is easier to spread it especially if the TB patient is not treated. The following are ways in which a person with affected lungs can spread the bacteria in the air; sneezing, coughing, and laughing/talking.

  7. TB patients need to be isolated
  8. Society believes that once one is TB positive then that person should be isolated even on treatment. However, once one starts treatment and is adhering to it their medication; TB becomes inactive meaning they cannot transfer it even if they might still be coughing. This is why it is essential to get on early treatment and adhere as this minimizes the spread of the disease.

  9. The presence of blood in sputum means the person has TB
  10. TB is not the only disease that affects the lungs, there are a number of things that can cause blood in the sputum. These are but not limited to:

    1. Pneumonia
    2. Asthma
    3. Some lung infections
    4. Bleeding gums
    5. Sore throat
    6. Peptic ulcer
    7. Ulcers in the mouth

    Therefore, it is much safer to seek medical help if you are unsure of the blood in the sputum as this is a sign of TB but does not necessarily mean one has TB.

  11. The Young people cannot contract TB
  12. Tuberculosis affects all age groups and people all over the world. However, it is most prone to young adults and people living in developing countries. Due to its contagious nature children can contract it if someone in the household has it. Children below the age of 5 are more prone because their immune system has not fully developed and they are given Isoniazid Preventive Therapy for 6 months if someone in the household is infected.

    1. Coughing of any duration depending on immune and susceptibility status of an individual ( a day to two weeks).
    2. Fever
    3. Night sweats
    4. Unintentional weight loss
    5. Coughing up blood
    6. Fatigue
    7. Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing

    Therefore, if anyone regardless of their age shows any signs and symptoms of TB it is advisable to seek medical attention.