Q Dear Auntie Pearl, my friend has been diagnosed with TB, she’s almost like my sister, and it’s so strange because she’s never sick.
She just started coughing and now she’s got it.
I think she got it from work. She works at a place for sick babies.
My uncle actually also has it for a few years now.
I really want to know more to help and support them.
Anyway, I was wondering if there are any support groups for TB patients or guidelines for us.
I’ve heard of support groups on Facebook for other things so maybe there is a page for TB, too?
Thank you Auntie. Appreciate it.
A Dear Lauren, aren’t you a sweetie pie; you’re like one of those lekker jam donuts, just when you think it’s yummy, then it gets even better!
Now, Lauren, even if you don't have TB, you are affected by it.
You say so yourself: two people who you are close to are infected and sick with TB - your friend and your uncle.
Much like the current Covid-19 pandemic we are in, something like TB has a ripple effect that continues all through the lives of everyone it touches.
So just for clarity and so that everyone’s on the same page: TB or Tuberculosis is a disease caused by germs and it spreads from one person to another through the air.
It usually affects the lungs, but can also affect the brain, the kidneys or the spine.
Anyone and everyone can get TB, it can affect anyone and is not just an illness for the poor, the weak or mense who are already sick.
Here are a few of the key symptoms to watch out for, especially when you are regularly in contact with your friend or uncle who are sick with TB:
Chest pains, weight loss, feeling cold, a loss of appetite, night sweats and a fever, and coughing for more than two weeks with a mixture of spoeg and slym being coughed up.
So here are some super important do’s and don'ts Lauren, because like the saying goes ‘prevention is better than cure’, daai’s why Auntie says let’s start at the basics:
Eat a well-balanced diet as much as possible because a strong immune system means you have a fighting chance to tackle any germs and diseases that might try and enter your body.
So more veggies and fruits and healthy foods, and less junk food, sugary foods and foods that are pumped full of preservatives.
Just like with Covid, good hygiene is key so washing your hands and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing reduces the spread of TB; clean hands will literally mean lower infection rates.
Also, similar to Covid, we need good ventilation, so open the windows and doors, let the air circulate and let the breeze waai through.
TB can remain suspended in the air for a few hours so we need ventilation – remember that when you are in an enclosed space with someone who is sick, like a room, bus and taxi.
Two things your friend and uncle should definitely not be doing is smoking (for obvious reasons) and then also coughing without covering their mouths and noses.
They are carriers so if they start coughing and sneezing without covering their faces they will be spreading TB faster than the Easter Bunny spreads Easter eggs!
There are so many things we can still talk about when it comes to TB, hartjie, plus there are different kinds of TB. But what Auntie wants you and your loved ones to know is that you are not alone!
The World Health Organisation skeems almost 360 000 mense are ill with TB in South Africa.
And, yes, there is support. A good place to start on Facebook will be the ‘TB Support Group – Advice, Sharing and Info about Tuberculosis’.
Just type that name into the search bar on Facebook.
This page has so much information on TB.
There is also a private group called ‘Tuberculosis Support Group’, and here mense can talk and learn about TB, share their stories, ask advice, and get support.
All the best, Lauren. You are truly an angel for wanting to help your uncle and friend on this difficult road.