Tuberculosis is a life-threatening disease and its treatment is vital and urgent, especially if you are pregnant.
Treating TB during pregnancy becomes a little difficult, as some medications can interfere with the growth of the fetus or be harmful to a newly born, who is on breastfeed.
Understanding the causes and knowing the symptoms can help you prevent or spot TB at the earliest, and get the required treatment.
Cause Of TB:
Tuberculosis is a disease caused by bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis which can affect any part of your body, mainly lungs.
- If you are infected with TB, you may not feel sick or reveal any symptoms right away because your immune system will fight and kill the bacterium.
- If it is not tackled by the immune system, it will remain inside the body and can also develop into active TB as the immune system becomes weak.
- It is generally found in people with lower immunity, like young children, babies and pregnant women.
Symptoms Of TB:
Common symptoms found in TB include:
- Cough, persistent for more than 3 weeks
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Sweating at night
Though, nausea and fatigue are common symptoms of pregnancy, if you encounter other symptoms, it is worth checking with your health adviser.
[ Read: Breathing Problem During Pregnancy ]
Untreated TB In Pregnant Women:
If TB is left untreated in a pregnant woman, it may pose hazard to both the fetus and the mother. In fact, the process for treatment should be initiated when the disease is in moderate to high probability phase.
- Babies are born with a low weight when pregnant women are not given treatment during pregnancy.
- In some rare cases, even babies are born with TB if affected mothers are not treated during pregnancy.
- The drugs used for initial treatment of TB during pregnancy are known to cross through placenta. It generally, does not have harmful effects on the developing fetus.
Detection Of Active TB In Pregnancy:
When you are pregnant and have persistent coughing of sputum, you will be directed to go for a sputum test.
- This test will include taking your sputum (phlegm) sample and will be diagnosed for presence of Mycobacterium.
- This test will also be followed by a chest X-ray, blood test and skin test.
- It is important to go through an X-ray examination because the impact that untreated TB can cause is more hazardous than X-ray.
[ Read: Listeriosis During Pregnancy ]
Tuberculin Skin Test:
If you do not show specific symptoms of TB, you will be asked to go for Tuberculin skin test or Mantoux test.
- It will reveal information if you have ever been exposed to this bacterium.
- This test involves injecting a chemical into your skin. If there is a large swelling in the injected area after 2 to 3 days, it denotes presence of Mycobacterium, but it is not mandatory that it is an active infection.
Treatment Of Tuberculosis In Pregnancy:
TB can be cured 100%, if the full course of medication is followed.
- If the treatment of TB is initiated in early days, it can be cured completely. Complete the full course of medicines without any interruption.
- It takes around six months to kills the bacterium causing this deadly disease.
- You will also start feeling better within a few days of treatment, but you must complete its course as the bacteria are still alive.
- It is very important to start medication as early as possible as it reduces the chances of getting sick and also premature birth of your baby.
Medication For TB In Pregnancy:
While pregnant, it is mandatory to undergo TB treatment as it is dangerous for you as well as your growing baby.
- Its treatment generally involves rifampin, isoniazid and ethambutol for 9 months. When the bacterium is still alive after taking these first-line medicines, other medication for longer duration will be given.
- Pyrazinamide is recommended for a pregnant woman with TB by World Health Organization (WHO), the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (IUATLD).
- Use of Streptomycin is avoided as it can cause birth defects in babies.
- Doctors recommend consuming Vitamin B6 for curing TB.
- The result of second-line medication for TB is not known in the fetus. If you are affected with drug-resistant TB bacteria, consult the doctor about the safest method of treatment available.
- While breastfeeding, you can continue first-line medication for treatment of active TB infection. The small amounts of medication that flows in your breast milk will not cause any harm to your baby.
[ Read: List Of Safe Medicine During Pregnancy ]
Medication Avoided For TB In Pregnancy:
There are some medicines and antibiotics that should not be given during pregnancy:
Safety Measures For TB In Pregnancy:
The following safety measures must be adopted during pregnancy to keep TB infection away:
1. Balanced Diet:
It is important to consume a well-balanced diet including all vitamins to strengthen the immune system and help fight the bacteria.
[ Read: Kidney Infection During Pregnancy ]
2. Fresh Air:
It is vital to maintain ventilation in home and breathe fresh air.
3. Doctor’s Visit:
You must not miss visits to your doctor as she will keep track of the improvements through medication. You must report any side effects like headache, vision change or increased nausea to your health adviser.
4. Good Hygiene:
You must take care of personal hygiene, cover your mouth and nose during sneezing and also ensure washing your hands regularly. This will prevent spreading of germs around.
5. Dispose Soiled Tissues:
Soiled tissues should be disposed in a covered bin.
Along with these safety measures, it is vital to stay positive and get treated for TB. Doctors also recommend consuming Vitamin B6 during breastfeeding for TB treatment.
Hope this article has cleared your doubts regarding tuberculosis in pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you have any views that you want to share with other readers, please write in the comments section below.
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