Tuberculosis in childhood: what you need to know

Doctors note that the main means of disease prevention is vaccination.

About a third of the world’s population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Children are among them. In the initial stages, there are no direct signs of the disease in children, so it is not so easy to establish a diagnosis. From the time mycobacteria enter the body to the manifestation of the disease, it can take from several months to 2 or more years.

Tuberculosis can be disguised as different diseases. However, there are some signs that make it possible to suspect this particular ailment: constant weakness, increased fatigue, worsening or lack of appetite, weight loss, prolonged fever (more often with low body temperature up to 37-37.5), sweating (mainly at night), long cough (for 3 weeks or more), shortness of breath, hemoptysis.

The clinical picture of the pathology is very variable. If the intestines or other parts of the gastrointestinal tract are affected, digestive disorders are observed: diarrhea, vomiting, the presence of blood in the feces. In the genitourinary form, the child complains of pain in the area of the kidneys, impaired urination, and a change in the color of urine. Tuberculosis of the skin is manifested by the appearance of various types of eczema (warts, induration, areas of necrosis, etc.).

“Children from birth to 3 years of age are the most vulnerable to the disease, this is due to physiological characteristics, immaturity of the immune system, and also children with congenital defects and hereditary diseases. In addition, HIV-infected children from families where parents abuse alcohol and drugs are at risk. The main means of disease prevention is vaccination. It is also important to conduct regular examinations, tuberculin tests (Mantoux reaction), quantiferon test. X-ray diagnostics is also informative. And the most important thing is an epidanamnesis, whether there was contact with a tuberculosis patient,” said Mariana Davydiv, a pediatric phthisiologist at the Lung Health Center.

The trend in the treatment of childhood TB is family-oriented. Children are hospitalized only in severe cases. In order for the form of therapy to be acceptable, less traumatic and comfortable for the child, today there are children’s combined forms of treatment. After sterilization, children who feel well and will not release the tubercle bacillus can attend children’s groups and live a full life.

Doctors emphasize that tuberculosis can affect everyone. However, this is not a sentence: neither in adulthood nor in childhood. The main thing is to trust specialists, start treatment on time and follow all the recommendations of doctors.


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