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People with tuberculosis are at great risk of serious health complications from coronavirus infection

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on March 25th, 2020

If infection with coronavirus occurs in people with tuberculosis, their risk of developing serious health complications increases significantly. Therefore, tuberculosis patients should follow the necessary protective measures to avoid contracting the new virus.

At the moment, there are over 3 million people struggling with coronavirus in the U.S. and the pandemic is spreading extremely fast throughout the country. By now, more than 134,000 individuals lost their lives to the new virus and the number of deaths is increasing with each passing day. While everyone is at risk of contracting the coronavirus, people with underlying lung disease are the most susceptible to develop serious health complications following infection with it, including those who suffer from tuberculosis.

What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is a contagious lung infection that has a bacterial cause. According to scientists, the bacteria which is responsible for tuberculosis have been around for over 150 million years. Several centuries ago, the infection was fatal, as there was no cure for it, and thereby, a tremendous number of people died from tuberculosis. In 2014, there were 9,421 people suffering from the infection in the U.S. Fortunately, the number of people diagnosed with tuberculosis is slowly decreasing every year in the country. However, in 2018, approximately 10 million people were struggling with the infection across the world, particularly individuals who lived in third world countries. Therefore, the issue of tuberculosis is still acute.

In the majority of cases, tuberculosis is latent, which means the person who has it does not experience any symptoms. Nevertheless, when the infection becomes active, which occurs in 10% of patients, people are at high risk of terrible health complications. For this reason, tuberculosis remains a serious lung infection that needs to be timely and properly treated so as to avoid complications such as joint damage, severe back pain, liver and kidney problems, and heart disease.

The most common symptoms of tuberculosis include:

  • a persisting cough
  • chest pain
  • fever
  • coughing up blood
  • night sweats
  • fatigue
  • chills
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

What are the causes of tuberculosis?

While tuberculosis is caused by a bacterial infection and usually remains latent in the body, there are multiple risk factors that may trigger the onset of the infection. These risk factors are diabetes mellitus, low body weight, infection with HIV, medical treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which weakens the immune system, as well as underlying respiratory problems such as lung diseases occurring as a result of asbestos exposure. Consequently, if you already struggle with a disease caused by asbestos exposure, such as lung cancer or pulmonary fibrosis, your risk of developing tuberculosis increases. The reverse is also valid, since having tuberculosis makes you susceptible to diseases stemming from asbestos exposure if you have toxic fibers in your lungs.

Why are tuberculosis patients at high risk of contracting the new virus?

Like most lung diseases, tuberculosis causes the sufferer to have a very poor immune system, which makes the person significantly more prone to contracting respiratory infections such as that triggered by the coronavirus. To make matters worse, the symptoms of the new virus are very similar to those of tuberculosis, which makes it difficult for medical professionals to identify coronavirus in tuberculosis patients without conducting extensive tests. The main symptoms of coronavirus are a lingering cough, fever, and shortness of breath, all of which we also encounter in the case of tuberculosis.

Having tuberculosis and coronavirus at the same time implies a great risk of developing serious health complications, as the new virus damages the respiratory system as well. The following are some of the complications which can occur in people who struggle with both tuberculosis and the new virus:

  • severe muscle pain
  • heart attack
  • irregular heart rate
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • fatigue
  • cardiovascular shock

Unfortunately, death may also ensue if your body is not strong enough to fight the infection, which is often the case in the elderly. Therefore, if you experience a new onset of symptoms as a tuberculosis patient, seek medical attention immediately, as you may have been infected with the new virus.

What protective measures should tuberculosis patients follow to prevent coronavirus infection?

Since the new virus has taken over the world, contracting it is very likely if you fail to follow a series of protective measures whose purpose is to prevent infection. The following are some of the basic hygiene measures you should keep in mind every day to avoid contracting the new virus:

  • wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, especially when you come home from outside
  • maintain social distancing, which means standing at least 3 feet away from those around you
  • avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes if you have not washed your hand properly before
  • cover your mouth and nose with your elbow when coughing or sneezing, regardless of the health issue you have
  • avoid leaving the house if you have a cold, the flu or coronavirus to prevent infecting other people
  • wear a face mask when you go out if you are sick to avoid contaminating the others
  • thoroughly clean surfaces and objects you often touch on a regular basis
  • keep up to date with the news concerning the coronavirus to know what additional protective measures you should follow

Tuberculosis patients may be entitled to financial compensation

If you have a history of occupational asbestos exposure and are now struggling with tuberculosis, you may be eligible for compensation. Please contact our law firm for a prompt case review, as we are always glad to help victims of asbestos exposure recover the financial compensation they deserve for their physical and emotional injury. Our medical experts will examine your lungs for asbestos fibers and, if they are present, you qualify for filing a claim to recover money from the asbestos trust funds of the companies which manufactured the products you handled on the job, as well as from the VA if you are a veteran.

It is crucial to take legal action as soon as possible since asbestos cases have a statute of limitations of 3 years. Our attorneys, who have been pursuing asbestos exposure cases for the past 30 years, will provide you with quality legal assistance and obtain the maximum amount of compensation for you from the parties at fault. It is also worthy of note that you do not have to pay anything for our legal services unless we recover financial compensation on your behalf.