TB (Tuberculosis) In Toddlers - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments


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Is your child shedding weight without any apparent reason? Did he spit blood while coughing? Well, if you can relate your child to the above situations it is time to give Tuberculosis a thought!

As a parent, the slightest distress of your child can give you sleepless night. But the thought of your child suffering from TB must be your worst nightmare! Want to know more about the deadly disease and how to safeguard your child from it? Read on!

What Is TB?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that can spread through the bloodstream and lymph nodes to different organs in the body. However, in most cases it affects the lungs. (1)

What Are The Different Types Of TB?

TB can appear in different forms and types in children and adults.

  • Pulmonary TB – specific to lungs
  • Lymph node TB – affecting the lymph nodes
  • Skeletal (bone and joint) TB that affects bones
  • TB meningitis
  • Gastrointestinal or Abdominal TB

What Causes TB?

The Mycobacterium tuberculosis spreads this deadly disease. There are two types of TB latent and active. If a person has latent TB, the bacteria stay in the body in the dormant state. (2) In active TB, the bacteria multiply and overpower the immune system of the patient who can transmit the infection to others.

How Does Tb In Toddlers Spread?

If your child is in close contact with a TB patient, he is likely to contract the infection. The virus can transmit through the air every time the patient coughs, sneezes, spits, or speaks.

Children with weak immune systems can inhale the bacteria that gradually become active and cause the disease. If a child is suffering from HIV or malnutrition, he is more prone to catching the disease.

[ Read: Pneumonia In Toddlers ]

What Are The Symptoms Of Tb In Toddlers?

If a child is suffering from Tuberculosis, he may suffer from the following symptoms: (3)

General TB:

[ Read: Symptoms Of Loss Of Appetite In Toddlers ]

TB Of The Lungs:

  • Coughing for more than three weeks
  • Pain in the chest
  • Coughing up blood (Hemoptysis)

The symptoms of TB vary depending on which part of your child’s body is affected.

[ Read: Croup In Toddlers ]

How To Diagnose TB?

The doctor may advise the following tests to diagnose TB:

  • Tuberculin Skin Test (TST)
  • TB blood test (IGRA)
  • Chest X-Ray

The sputum test to diagnose TB is not an effective method to diagnose the infection in children as it is difficult to conduct the test for infants and young children. Also, the test is less likely to show a positive result as even a less number of the bacteria can cause the disease in children. (4)

Strategies For Prevention And Treatment Of TB:

If anybody is suffering from TB in the family, the house should be well ventilated. The patient should occupy a separate room and children should keep away from the infected person.

BCG, or bacille Calmette-Guerin, is a vaccination doctors recommend for protecting the children from TB

The doctor may prescribe drugs like isoniazid, rifampin, and pyrazinamide for two months to cure Tuberculosis in children. Treatment then continues for at least four more months with isoniazid and rifampin. He may also recommend Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) supplements if the child is taking a poor diet. (5)

The doctor may suggest directly observed therapy (DOT), to ensure that the child takes all the medicines.

Remember, an incomplete treatment may result in the recurrence of TB. Incorrect dosage of drugs too can increase the resistance of the bacteria. It may result in a more difficult, expensive and prolonged treatment.

Now you know more about Tuberculosis in children. Why wait? Go ahead and spread the word to keep the chronic disease at bay.

Did your child suffer from TB? What treatment did the doctor suggest? Please share your experience and advice with other moms here.

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