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Consultant Pulmonologist Dr Anshu Punjabi’s Covid-19 Guide For TB Patients

Before the fright of COVID-19 arose, there was a much more dangerous respiratory disease, Tuberculosis. And it is still present. Both diseases can be released and spread through air particles exhaled by an infected individual. This 24th March is World Tuberculosis Day and the theme is ‘The Clock Is Ticking’, sounding the alarm that while we focus on COVID-19, around 4000 people die of TB, every day. TC46 connected with Pulmonologist and Sleep Medicine Expert Dr Anshu Punjabi from Fortis Hospital, Mumbai to understand the possible connection between the two respiratory diseases and what someone suffering from TB should know about dealing with Covid-19.

1. COVID-19 and Tuberculosis are both respiratory diseases

Both Tuberculosis (TB) and COVID-19 19 affect the lungs primarily. Both the diseases are highly infectious and if not treated in a timely manner, they can cause serious complications and even death in some cases. If you have any such symptoms you should consult a doctor who can do appropriate tests and offer a timely diagnosis.

2. TB patients are more vulnerable to COVID-19

There is insufficient data to support that TB patients are more prone to COVID-19. However, if you have Pulmonary TB, any damage to your lungs could make you more vulnerable to other infections such as COVID-19. If a person with TB is also diagnosed with the COVID-19 infection, they must consult their doctor immediately. They should continue their anti-TB medications as prescribed unless told to stop by their doctor.

3. TB services should be uninterrupted even during the pandemic

It is important that TB services are running uninterrupted during the pandemic. We have seen a decrease in the TB cases notification as there is a delay in accessing health services during the pandemic, as well as social stigma associated with respiratory diseases. Educational campaigns for public awareness should be run and screening of suspected cases should continue.

4. Consult a doctor

If diagnosed with either illness, consult a specialist doctor immediately and follow their advice. Avoid the use of home remedies and alternative medicines.

5. The measures to prevent COVID-19 and Tuberculosis are similar

For both TB and COVID-19 there are lots of simple but effective measures that you can take to protect yourself. – Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel – Always wear a mask outdoors, especially in crowded places. – Wash your hands more often than usual.

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