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Lingering Effects of TB Continue to Plague Patients Long After Treatment

Lingering Effects of TB Continue to Plague Patients

While tuberculosis (TB) is considered cured once a patient's sputum tests negative for the bacteria, many survivors struggle with long-lasting lung damage long after treatment ends. 28-year old Durga (name changed for privacy), is a prime example.

Almost four months after completing another rigorous course of anti-TB drugs, Durga continues to gasp for air. “Doctors say I'm cured, but I don't feel healed,” she shares. TB has attacked Durga's lungs three separate times since the first infection at 22, wreaking irreversible harm each bout.

TB bacteria primarily invade the lungs, causing inflammation that often results in cavities or thickened tissue. This impacts breathing long-term for many like Durga. Simple tasks leave her wheezing, while even lying down is uncomfortable. Weight loss during illness remains, further impairing her quality of life.

accounts for over a quarter of global TB cases annually according to WHO data. While antibiotics can eliminate the bacteria, TB frequently scars lung function. Some patients develop chronic lung diseases post-treatment like COPD. Poor oxygen intake then taxes other organs.

Durga's struggles stem from incomplete prior treatment allowing drug resistance to emerge. Incomplete doses allow bacteria mutations, thwarting drugs. Her latest strain damaged lungs rapidly, necessitating nine daily tablets versus the initial four.

Pulmonologist Dr. Vijil Rahulan notes TB treatment focuses only on bacterial clearance, not symptom resolution. “We must study how strains impact long-term lung to lessen disability,” he urges.

With a family member lost to TB, Durga seeks long-term government support and monitoring for patients enduring persistent symptoms post-cure. While declared cured, the disease's physical effects continue haunting for many seeking full recovery of health.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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