Skilled Management Of Tuberculosis Helps Individuals Tolerate Treatment And Aids In Recovery
Pegasus in-home caregivers in Tujunga and elsewhere provide comprehensive services to individuals of all ages. They strive to improve each person’s quality of life. Our career home health care nurses use their skills to assist our clientele with managing a diagnosis of tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an airborne bacterium, is the cause. TB most often affects the lungs, but the infection can spread to other parts of the body.
TB is moderately contagious. An infected person must directly cough or sneeze on another person to infect them. It primarily spreads between individuals in frequent close contact rather than strangers.
A person with a strong immune system who is exposed to TB may develop latent tuberculosis. They’re often asymptomatic and not contagious, but they test positive. They may never develop TB disease, but treatment is recommended as a preventive measure.
TB Disease Can Affect The Whole Body
A tuberculosis infection may become active within days of exposure. Or it may be months or years before the person develops TB disease. The bacteria may travel through the lymphatic system or blood from the lungs to the:
- Bones and joints
- Genitourinary tract
Early treatment helps confine the infection to the lungs.
Common symptoms include:
- Blood or mucus in cough
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Night sweats
- Painful breathing or coughing
- Persistent cough
- Unexplained weight loss
If your patient has latent TB or has been exposed, it’s imperative to monitor them for early symptoms of TB disease.
It’s also crucial that patients inform you of other medical conditions they may have. Some conditions can hide TB symptoms. Or the TB symptoms may be attributed erroneously to co-morbidities or to aging.
TB is curable if treated early. The more advanced the disease, the more aggressive the treatment. That’s complicated in the elderly due to the risks involved in polypharmacy and invasive procedures.
Tuberculosis is treated with antibiotics. The treatment regimen varies depending on whether the infection is latent or active. It also depends on how extensive the infection is.
Other factors in treatment include the age and overall health of the individual. Drugs may have to be modified if the individual can’t tolerate them. All the drugs used in TB treatment are toxic to the liver.
In addition to close monitoring, your role as a home healthcare nurse will include supporting and encouraging your patient. The treatment can take months, and side effects are often unpleasant. Many individuals want to stop as soon as they feel a little better.
Patients who don’t follow through are at risk for drug-resistant TB. Those individuals then require more potent drugs, with significant side effects, for two or more years. Except for early latent TB, individuals must take more than one antibiotic daily.
You will probably need to help them set a schedule. Tips include:
- Taking the drugs at the same time each day.
- Marking off the day on a calendar after taking the pills.
- Using a pill dispenser with a compartment for each day.
- Asking each day if they’ve taken their all their medication.
Spending a few minutes teaching family caregivers these tips helps ensure that their loved one doesn’t overlook taking their pills.
Latent TB is often treated with isoniazid. As with most drugs, individuals taking isoniazid must avoid alcohol and specific foods. Treatment for active TB includes isoniazid in combination with other antibiotics. These can include:
Individuals with drug-resistant TB may need long-term treatment with one or more of the following:
All the drugs have potentially serious side effects. As well as liver toxicity, some can harm other organs, such as the kidneys. Hearing or vision may be affected.
Your patient may experience a loss of appetite. Others may have nausea or vomiting when they eat. Some might have dark urine or jaundiced skin.
Tuberculosis Drugs Interact With Numerous Other Drugs
It’s essential that you know what medications your patient is taking. Be sure to ask about supplements, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter drugs. Patients often don’t mention these to their physician.
Tuberculosis drugs interact with many other substances. A partial list includes:
- Supplements containing calcium, iron, or zinc
Although some interactions are mild, all need to be closely monitored. Some patients may also have an allergy to or adverse reaction to the TB drugs.
Helping your patient manage their tuberculosis treatment will require all your nursing skills. Home care allows you to make observations and evaluations that enable you to advocate for your patient.
Your patient may need additional help from members of your Pegasus team. A dietician can help with changes in appetite and restrictive diets. A mental health expert can help with coping strategies.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our in-home caregivers in Tujunga and our other locations have consistently provided quality care to our clients since 1994. Our career home health care nurses use their skills to help clientele live independently and safely at home.