High sugar levels attract the deadly TB bacteria. A year-long study by BMC has unearthed a co-infection trend between TB and diabetes. Of 13,466 TB patients screened last year, 1,022 tested positive for diabetes.
"Prevalence of diabetes in Mumbai's TB patients is 7.5%. We're screening TB patients for diabetes," said Dr Minni Khetarpal, TB officer, BMC.
A study by Stevenson et al in 2007 quoted that a diabetic is three times more likely to get TB than a non-diabetic.
Experts say it's time the government provided free diabetes treatment to TB patients since many can't afford cost of insulin. "TB patients bleed financially due to high cost of insulin," said Dr Prabhudesai, chest physician at Lilavati hospital.
Dr Roshani Sanghani, diabetologist and Dr Zarir Udwadia, chest physician, at Hinduja hospital, recently wrote in a medical journal: "...In our practice, we have seen a growing link between TB and diabetes... We need to do more research on the same."
Dr P Prabhudesai said, "I have diabetes patients diagnosed with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and it becomes very difficult to manage both diseases."
Opposing drugs cause havoc in the patient. "There is a high risk of liver failure as the toxicity levels in a TB-diabetes co-infected patient are very high," said Dr Anthony Harries, senior advisor, International Union Against TB and Lung Diseases.