7 ways you can help fight tuberculosis

October 9, 2015

Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of death in the world, although it's rare in North America. If you contract TB, here are some tips that could aid in a speedy recovery.

7 ways you can help fight tuberculosis

1. Lay off the alcohol

Patients must abstain from alcohol when taking TB antibiotics. It interacts with the drugs and also increases the risk of liver and nerve damage — common side effects of the TB regimen.

2. Get the calories you need

  • Both the disease and the medications cause loss of appetite, but it'simportant  to maintain good nutrition.
  • It's critical to consume more calories than usual to counter the weight loss characteristic of TB.
  • Your diet should emphasize foods that are dense in calories and easy to digest. Good choices include legumes, pasta, grains, milkshakes, rich soups, custards, eggs, puddings and ice cream.
  • A healthy diet can minimize weight loss, bolster immunity and rebuild damaged tissue.
  • Citrus fruits and other fresh fruits and vegetables provide vitamin C and beta carotene, antioxidants that the body needs to boost immunity.

3. Be sure to eat your meat

  • The diet should provide high-quality protein, preferably from lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and other animal products.
  • Although the results are inconclusive, some studies suggest that vegetarians are more vulnerable to TB and its complications.
  • Zinc is also important to foster healing and a strong immune system. Good sources include oysters and other shellfish, lean meat, milk, beans, nuts and whole grains.

4. Get some sun

  • White blood cells that are armed with high concentrations of vitamin D appear to be more effective in destroying the bacillus.
  • The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun.
  • Good dietary sources include fluid milk, fortified soy and rice beverages, margarine, eggs and fatty fish.

5. You may need a supplement

Isoniazid is especially destructive to the nerves. To counter this, some doctors prescribe B6 supplements. Foods that are high in this nutrient include most animal products, grains, spinach and potatoes.

6. Quit smoking

Because tuberculosis usually damages the lungs, it's important to avoid exposure to tobacco smoke and other pollutants that are harmful to the lungs.

7. Stop the spread

  • Although TB is highly contagious, the risk of spreading it can be minimized by practicing good hygiene and by not sharing eating utensils and other personal items.
  • When coughing or sneezing, a person with TB should always cover his mouth and nose with a tissue and then promptly dispose of it.
  • Because sun and fresh air help destroy airborne bacilli, the living quarters should be aired frequently and as much sunshine as possible allowed in.
  • Anyone who lives in close contact with a tuberculosis patient should undergo testing for the disease.
  • In some cases, preventive antibiotic treatment may be prescribed.

While rare in North America, TB can still infect anyone. But with the right diet, brief lifestyle changes and help from trained medical professionals, you could have a better recovery.

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