Communicable Diseases Module: 14. Diagnosis and Treatment of Tuberculosis

Study Session 14  Diagnosis and Treatment of Tuberculosis


In this study session you will learn about methods for diagnosis of tuberculosis, be introduced to different categories of patient with TB and also learn about treatment of tuberculosis with drugs, including the major side-effects of these medications. Even though you are not the person with responsibility for diagnosing and prescribing anti-TB drugs, having this information will enable you to swiftly identify and refer people suspected of having TB and ensure there is follow-up for confirmed cases. You will also learn more about the main method of diagnosis of TB, which is sputum examination under a microscope, and other supportive measures like chest X-ray, which is likely to help diagnosis of individuals who are smear-negative.

Your role is to make sure that every person diagnosed with TB takes the recommended drugs, in the right combinations and at the right time, for the appropriate duration. The best way to achieve this is for you to watch each patient swallow the drugs. This is called Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course (DOTS) and was introduced in Study Session 13. Directly observed treatment can take place at a hospital, health centre or health post, the patient’s workplace or home. If drugs are taken incorrectly or irregularly, the patient will not be cured and drug resistance may arise. To a large extent, the success of TB treatment by drugs depends on your effectiveness in overseeing the patient’s adherence to the treatment.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 14