Living with inactive tuberculosis

    • Brief

    • Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. The bacteria enter your body when you breathe in air that contains them (e.g. from an infected person who coughs or sneezes).

      When you live with inactive tuberculosis, you have the tuberculosis bacteria in the body, but the bacteria is not growing or spreading. You are not coughing or sick and cannot infect another person. This is because your body’s defence system is strong enough to fight the bacteria.

      However, if your body’s defence system becomes weak, the bacteria can begin to grow, making you sick and able to spread the disease. Therefore, treatment for inactive tuberculosis is essential.

    • When you get the diagnosis

    • Inactive tuberculosis is not easy to detect because you don't show any symptoms of the disease. A blood test can confirm the presence of the bacteria in your body.

      If you are coughing, practice cough hygiene and wear a face mask, and do not sleep in the same room with other people if possible. You can spread this infection to people who are close to you.

      If you are not coughing, you may be clearing thick mucus from your throat. Dispose of this mucus carefully as this can contain tuberculosis bacteria.

      Also, use only your cutlery, plates and cups. Do not share these with other people in your house.

    • Work and your health

    • Tuberculosis may make you weak and breathless after moderate activities. Give yourself time to recover before attempting work at the same as before the infection.

      You may need to schedule your directly observed therapy (DOT) schedule within your work hours. This may be possible if your workplace is close to a DOT centre or within commuting distance.

    • Diet and nutrition

    • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables because they contain vitamins and minerals. They boost your immune system. Most people who get tuberculosis lose up to 10% of their body weight, so eating more proteins (e.g. milk, eggs, beans, lean meat) may help limit this weight loss.

      You can supplement your diet with immune-boosting supplements like Vitamin C. Talk to your healthcare providers about other supplements if your diet can not provide sufficient quantities.

    • Physical activity

    • Keeping physically active can help you remain healthy and well. Although it won't clear the infection, it will contribute to your general wellbeing and keep you physically well.

    • Support from family and community

    • Your family can help you ensure that your living conditions are right and that your family members are protected from contracting the disease. Your family can also help you to continue your treatment until you have cleared the infection.

      In some areas in Nigeria, your community head will be involved in your care. You will be able to take the medicines in their official residence. If you qualify for support, it may also be distributed through the community head either in cash or as food. Community heads who are involved in your care will encourage you to complete your treatment and to talk with you if you have difficulties.

      If you feel depressed, talk to your family or your healthcare provider. They may be able to help you get through this condition.

    • Financial impact

    • Tuberculosis treatment is free in Nigeria. The programme is available at most general hospitals around the country. You may need to pay for your own cost of transportation and the treatment for any other conditions.

    • Kulawa cares

    • You can live for many years without being aware of the presence of tuberculosis bacteria in your body. You should routinely go for tuberculosis screening  to know the state of your health.

      Most people born in Nigeria since 1921 have received the BCG Vaccine. Children born at home or outside the clinic are likely not to have received the vaccine. Get yourself and your children vaccinated!

      Ask your healthcare provider about medical centres or hospitals within your area that give BCG vaccines.