you T.B. aware?
are about 8 million new cases of TB in the world each year.
Although the number of TB cases in the UK is low, it is on
the rise, especially in the London area.
(tuberculosis) is caused by bacteria and usually affects the
lungs, although other parts of the body, particularly the
lymph glands, can be affected. These days TB is curable, but
if it is not treated it can become very serious.
How do you
the common cold, TB bacteria are carried in droplets in the air.
You can catch it from someone who has TB of the lungs when that
person coughs or sneezes.
It is quite
difficult to catch, but if your body is weakened by poor diet and
living conditions, alcohol or drug use, HIV or other illness you
will be at more risk of developing TB if you come into contact with
What are the Symptoms?
often develop slowly after infection. Tiredness, fever, night sweats,
weight loss and a persistent cough are common. There may be chest
pain and blood stained sputum (spit). If the lymph glands are affected,
you may feel one or more lumps, often in the neck area or the armpit.
What action to take?
you have any of these symptoms for more than 3 weeks, you should
see your doctor (GP). If you don't have a GP but are feeling very
ill with a cough, fever and weight loss, go to your hospital Accident
and Emergency (Casualty) Department.
How will they know if it's TB?
painless chest x-ray will show whether or not you have TB of the
lung. A specimen of sputum (spit) will also show the bacteria under
a microscope and confirm that it is TB.
What is the treatment?
for TB is with antibiotics. Tablets must be taken regularly for
around 6 months. TB is completely curable if treatment is carefully
followed, but drug-resistant TB is on the rise as a result of people
not taking the tablets regularly, or stopping them before the end
What about infecting others?
the tablets must be taken for a long time to clear the disease,
a person with TB of the lung is no longer infectious to others after
2 weeks of treatment. You cannot be a "carrier" of TB,
the disease must be active in your lungs before you can infect others.
Family and close contacts of a person with TB should be checked
for infection ("screening"). This is done by a simple
skin test. Those who have had a BCG vaccination are at less risk
ago TB was very common in the UK and many people died from
it. Better living conditions and the BCG vaccination greatly
reduced the number of cases and many believed it had "gone
away". World travel, poverty and HIV mean that TB is
making a comeback.
Be aware of the signs and symptoms and get advice from a doctor
or pharmacist if you are concerned.
care - look after yourself!
More info on
by East Surrey Community Pharmacy Needle Exchange Scheme
Tel: 01372 227382