Should one tell others about the child’s illness and what should be told?

You can tell people who are important to your life and who you can get support from about the child’s illness. Explain that TB is cured with medicines. When the child gets medication, there is no reason to be afraid of transmission. Like any other sick leave, it is good to inform the day care staff about the child’s illness.

Can a child’s TB disease spread to other members of the family?

TB disease of a small child does not spread, but a school-aged child can have infectious TB disease (TB of the lungs or throat). Young people can easily develop a highly infectious disease.

TB bacteria are spread through the air from one person to another. When a person with infectious TB disease coughs, speaks, or sings TB bacteria spread into the air. Other people who are staying in the same room (flat, classroom, work space, car) may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. People with TB disease are most likely to spread it to people they spend time with every day e.g. people living in the same household.

Can parents give the TB medicines to the child? Where can the parents get help if there are problems in taking the medicines?

If the child is shy of the nurse, parents can give the medicines to the child. However, to make sure that all medicines are taken regularly throughout the treatment and to support the family it is necessary that the nurse is present and observes when medicines are taken. If there are problems in taking the medicines, the nurse will inform the doctor who is responsible for treatment.

How and where is TB disease of a child treated?

TB disease is treated with medicines. (read more about TB treatment here). Treatment is started at hospital in a children’s ward. If the child’s TB disease can spread to others, the child is first treated in an isolation room. When there is no more risk of infecting others and the child’s condition is good, medication continues at home.

The child will visit the hospital regularly so that the health staff can monitor the treatment and its effect on child’s health. Blood samples are collected every 1-2 months. X-rays are taken a few times during treatment and at the end of it. The child will also be checked by the doctor. If the child is older or an adolescent, sputum samples will be examined.

Taking medicines can sometimes feel hard or one may forget to take them. The child may also get adverse effects from the medicines. This is why a nurse will monitor how the child feels and will be present when the child takes the medicines in the hospital and also after the hospital period. It will be agreed with the nurse how the medicines are taken at home. Usually the child will meet the nurse 5-7 times a week. Depending on the situation, the child will go to take the medicines at a health station or, for example, in school health care. In some cases, a home care nurse can give the medicines at home. This is done to make sure that the child is cured. At the same time, this will prevent the bacteria from becoming resistant to medicines.

What are the symptoms of TB disease in a small child?

TB bacteria may cause the disease in the lungs of the child or elsewhere in the body such as lymph nodes, abdominal area or bones. The disease can also spread throughout the body and to the brain. The symptoms of TB disease depend on which part of the body is affected and the child’s age.

The symptoms of TB disease in infants and children below 5 years of age may be minor. The child may have cough, appear to be ill, have a fever and the child’s growth may slow down. The child may lose weight, or weight does not develop normally. The child may be tired and doesn’t have the energy to play and isn’t as active as usual.

TB disease can progress much faster in a small child than in a bigger child or an adult. A child can become severely ill within a few weeks, and the disease may be life-threatening.