Leprosy is the disease caused by bacteria named Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Leprosy discolors the skin by developing skin lesion and also damages the nerves. This infectious disease is also called as Hansen’s disease. Adults are at increased risk of developing leprosy than children. Leprosy have incubation period ranging from months to many years or decades. Due to very long incubation period the symptoms are not be observed instantly. In olden days leprosy patients were isolated from the community. Leprosy is not extremely transmittable. In order to restrict leprosy from spreading several measures are taken.
SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH LEPROSY
Patient affected by leprosy mostly notice symptoms such as numbness, mouth ulcers, loss of sensing cold and hot temperature, dry eyes, loss of digits, less blinking, skin lesions, limbs and disfigurement of facial parts. Apart from these, they also experience injury of nasal passage, inflammation of organs like kidneys, eyes, and liver. Leprosy in males results in erectile dysfunction. Different types of leprosy shows different symptoms. Demonstration of symptoms may take several years because the multiplication of mycobacterium leprae is very slow, therefore it is very hard to notice in beginning phase of disease.
Leprosy categorized into 3 types namely:-
- Tuberculoid leprosy:-
In trunk and body extremities we can observe patches of red skin with reduced sensation. Warning signs like skin stiffness, blindness, weakness in muscles, loss of toes and fingers etc are highly observed. Small injury to the toes or fingers results in complete loss of that finger or toe. Any single injury to eyes results in blindness. This type does not spread from one person to another.
- Borderline leprosy:-
This is most commonly seen and has mild severity. Skin rashes mainly on face, elbows, ears, arms, pain in muscle etc. are the symptoms.
- Lepromatous leprosy:-
This is highly dangerous shows symptoms like skin rash on knees, ears, face, buttocks, and elbows. Skin rash can be large, small, light or dark colored. Eyebrows and eyelashes becomes thinner, nose bleed, skin on face thickens gradually, stiffed nasal cavity, inflammation of armpits, groin and lymph nodes. Testes scarring is results in gynecomastia and infertility.
- Transmission mode of leprosy:-
Airborne nasal droplets are the transmission medium. When a healthy individual gets in contact with leprosy patient may get affected. There are few factors which increase the chances of spreading leprosy. Disease can be spread at genetic level, surrounding environment factors. This disorder generally seen spreading from infected husband to wife or vice versa, affected parents to kids. It may run for generations in family. Unborn child will not be affected by infected mother. Transmission of leprosy from animals to humans is rarely seen. Leprosy is not sexually transmitted disease.
Treatment to cope with leprosy:-
In earlier days there was no proper medication to cure leprosy. Discovering the disease in the primary stage is the best way to avoid severe ill effects and also it will be helpful in great extent to treat the infected person. Diagnosis of leprosy is done by skin scraping test. Test includes analyzing the cells sample to find out the pathogen existence. To find out the leprosy type lepromin skin test is performed. Antibiotics works best to cure leprosy. Antibiotics should be continued for about 6-7 months. Till the patient recovers completely antibiotics shouldn’t be discontinued. Proper medication can prevent the nerve damage.
In few cases patients may need supportive caring from physical therapists, orthopedists, eye specialists. To fade patch Reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery are needed. If for very long duration a healthy person stays in contact with infected individual that person must look for medical assistance. Patient experiences severe mental and physical problems. The drugs used to cure leprosy are Rifampicin, Clofazimine, Dapsone, Fluoroquinolones, Minocycline and Macrolides etc. We don’t have any particular vaccine for leprosy so proper medication is mandatory to cure this disease. Avoiding the contact with contaminated air which is exhaled by patient is best way to stay away from leprosy. Antibiotics must be continued for about 6-12 months for a better recovery.
Diet for leprosy patients:-
- Consumption of vitamin A rich food is very helpful to improve and healing the skin lesions. Carrots, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potato, beet root, red pepper, butternut, spinach, liver lettuce, apricots are much preferred.
- Vitamin-B complex rich foods are highly recommended to treat leprosy symptoms. Some of the very rich vitamin B complex foods are cheese, beef, octopus, lobster, lamb, fish eggs etc.
- Vitamin C foods are helpful to strengthen the immune system of the body. Kiwi fruit, guava, orange, lemons grapes, bell pepper garden cress, sprouts, papayas etc, are vitamin C rich foods.
- Foods containing minerals must be added in diet. Zinc and calcium are highly beneficial. Soy milk, cottage cheese, dark chocolate, watermelon seeds, yogurt, salmon, tofu etc are rich in minerals.
- Vitamin D foods like cat fish, button mushrooms, herring, tuna fish, mackerel, cod liver oil are good for leprosy patients.
- Vitamin E rich foods are good for epidermal cells which improves the skin texture. The skin lesions can be healed naturally by vitamin E rich foods like bell peppers, Swiss chard, mustard green, seeds of sunflower, asparagus. Vitamin E improves the epidermal cells by regenerating new cells.
Prevention is better than cure so people should avoid contact for a long time with lepromatous leprosy patients. Touching armadillos should be avoided as it sometimes contains mycobacterium leprae in undercooked armadillo. Quick recognition of symptoms and a proper medication is necessary to cure this disease and to avoid severe nerve damage.