The World Health Organization’s Global TB report for 2018 has declared tuberculosis as the biggest killer in India. Additionally, 27 percent of all affected people in 2017 are from India. The report suggests that TB is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, ranking above HIV/AIDS. Tuberculosis is one of the most ancient diseases and molecular evidence about its existence goes back to over 17,000 years. A worldwide pandemic, the mortality rate of the disease is 50 percent if left untreated.
To stay safe, it is important to follow some safety procedures. Dr Vikas Oswal, reputed pulmonologist credited with helping a patient beat drug-resistant TB prescribes some easy-to-follow steps to beat tuberculosis at its game.
1. Don’t crash diet
Often people take to crash dieting to lose maximum weight in a short period of time. The problem with crash dieting is that it leads to nutritional deficiencies, which directly impacts the immune system. A diet rich in proteins, carbs, vitamins, fats and minerals is important to build your body’s defences. “By going on extreme diets, you are basically lowering your immunity to fight tuberculosis bacteria,” says Dr Oswal. He recommends that you eat a healthy diet and stick to exercises for weight loss.
2. Eat more protein
A protein rich diet is essential to keep yourself TB free. If you live in a city like Mumbai, where it is easy to catch an infection, it’s important that you fortify your defences. That’s why it is important to eat a protein-rich diet to keep your immune system in ship shape. “Eat boiled eggs, roasted chicken and legumes in your diet every day,” says Dr Oswal.
3. Follow hygiene in public places
Most people in the country do not follow cough etiquette in public places. They don’t cover their mouths while coughing or sneezing. The infected micro cough droplets, which contain the bacteria, may be inhaled by others, leading to an infection. That’s why it’s important to keep your mouths and noses covered in case someone sneezes or coughs around you in public places says Dr Oswal. Washing hands thoroughly after taking public transport is also important because the seats and handles may be touched by infected people. Carry a hand sanitiser with you to quickly disinfect your hands.
4. Keep diabetes in check
Diabetes is one of the major risk factors for tuberculosis. That’s why people with diabetes need to be extra careful since high sugar levels can weaken the immune system. According to the medical journal Lancet, diabetes is estimated to be the cause of 15 percent of present tuberculosis cases. Keep monitoring your blood glucose levels and stick to your medication. Follow a healthy lifestyle and try to keep your sugar levels under control.
It's a fallacy to think that TB can only affect those living in squalor. TB was long considered to be a disease that affects the lowest rungs of the society. But the truth is that TB can be contracted by anyone, primarily because it is spread through the air. In an overpopulated city like Mumbai where people live in very close proximity, the chances of contracting a tuberculosis infection are very high.