Guide for Tuberculosis Treatment

In early time we did not have a specific treatment for tuberculosis. All we could do was to put the patient to bed and institute such measures as would nourish him and rest the lungs to give them a chance to heal. Now specific drugs are available which are very helpful in tak­ing care of many mild cases on an out-patient basis. Strepto­mycin and dihydro-streptomycin were the first to appear and they are considered among the most useful of the group, es­pecially for advanced cases. Isoniazid (INH) is usually given with streptomycin to prevent resistant strains from developing. This is regarded by authorities as the best combination. INH and para-aminosalicylic acid (PAS) together form the best combination for ambulatory or out-patient cases, for these drugs can be given by mouth. Streptomycin, on the other hand, is given by hypodermic injection. Treatment must be given un­der medical supervision.

One of the most difficult problems a doctor faces in treating the illiterate villager, and sometimes even the educated business man, is that of keeping him on the treatment for a long period, sometimes extending to two years or even more. Many patients begin to feel well the first month and think they do not have to return for check-ups. Their cough is gone they are eating well and gaining weight. What more could they want? But this reasoning is wrong. It is true perhaps that they are rid of 90% of the infection but the last 10% must be destroyed too, or it will come back, and when it does, it is likely to be resistant to the medicine given and the whole problem becomes more complicated. If you have tuberculosis, do not take things into your own hands but put yourself under the care of a competent doctor and follow his - instructions carefully. You will be well sooner and be happier if you do.

Rest is as important to the out-patient as to the hospitalized one. He should lie down for a nap at least twice a day. Work­ing, talking, and playing place a load an the weakened lungs and they cannot be expected to heal as easily as they would if they were rested as much as pos
sible. Food is also a very im­portant item in the treatment of tuberculosis. There is no specific food that has curative powers but a good balanced diet is what the body needs. A glass of milk between meals is helpful. Plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and milk should be taken. One big problem among village people is to provide good food when the family is poor and the patient, perhaps himself the bread-winner, is not able to earn.

The most important factor in the treatment of tuberculosis is to increase the bodily strength so that the body itself will resist and gradually destroy the disease germs. This is a slow process; therefore one who has the disease should know that he cannot get well in a week or two. The best means of increas­ing the bodily strength and of curing the disease is plenty 'Of air all the time, plenty of good food, out-of-door life, rest and freedom from worry.

Wherever possible it - is advisable to go to a tuberculosis hospital. In several large cities, dispensaries are conducted es­pecially for the treatment of tuberculosis patients. In some of these dispensaries advice and medicine are given without charge to poor people.

In case the tubercular patient cannot leave his home, he should not lose hope, because by following the instructions given below, the disease can be cured in the home.

The patient must be kept in a room by himself. This room should have large windows which should be kept open day and night. Care should be taken to avoid chills and draughts. A comfortable bed should be provided. During the daytime the patient should be out of doors under the shade of a tree in a hammock. The patient's room must be kept clean by frequent scrubbing of the floors and walls.

The patient's pillow and bedding should be hung out in the sun for a number of hours several times a week. Sunlight and fresh air kill tuberculosis germs. (