Tuberculosis in Kids – All What You Need to Know!
We normally think that tuberculosis is an adult disease, but young children could also be infected with tuberculosis. Tuberculosis, popularly known as TB is an airborne disease that infects the lungs, although it can affect the other parts of the body too. TB has been and still is one of the most infectious diseases and can prove fatal at times. But, if it is detected in the early stages, you can prevent it from causing any serious issues to your child’s health.
How does a child contract TB? Well, no child is born with tuberculosis, it is an acquired infection. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, laughs or talks, the bacteria spreads in the air. You child gets infected when they inhale the bacteria in the air. Unfortunately, children who have a weak immune system are more vulnerable than normal kids.
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Why is it so difficult to diagnose TB in children? Yes, it is hard to make a clinical diagnosis of TB in children. TB infections are hard to diagnose in kids because children are not able to produce sputum. They generally swallow it. Hence, it is impossible to send enough sputum to the laboratory to confirm the infection. The next available option is performing a chest x-ray to find out if there is an infection in the lungs. But, chest x-rays in children are very difficult to interpret because they are not so obvious as the shadow is rarely visible.
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Here are some of the quick facts you need to know about childhood tuberculosis.
- It is astonishing to note that everyday 680 kids die of tuberculosis, a preventable and treatable disease.
- Children do not manifest any noticeable symptoms. Hence, it is difficult to diagnose TB and the infection causing bacteria may go undetected in the lungs.
- The three most commonly seen symptoms in children with TB are low grade fever that continues for weeks, weight loss and persistent cough. Usually, they are prescribed a dose of antibiotics and make diagnosis a challenge.
- It is shocking that children are more likely than adults to develop TB in other parts of the bodies besides lungs. 70% of the kids with TB have the disease in their lungs while the rest in other parts of the body.
- Unlike adults, TB develops very quickly in kids and can even prove fatal within weeks of exposure to people with infectious tuberculosis.
- BCG vaccine helps kids from developing this infectious disease but no vaccine is able to protect everyone who receives a vaccine.
- TB cases in children can be easily treated. Preventative therapy is also available for children.
- A study conducted in 2015 revealed that India has the highest numbers of TB deaths among children. It is pathetic to note that of the total death 98% of the children were not on treatment.
As TB symptoms are hard to identify and as prompt treatment is necessary to your child’s health it is important that you monitor your child for any signs that may indicate TB infection. To be on the safe side, it is always better to get your child tested for TB if they happen to come in contact with a TB infected person. On the other hand, if your child has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, it is important to get timely treatment to prevent it from spreading and causing serious complications like tuberculosis meningitis. Remember, Tuberculosis is preventable and treatable!