The word ‘tuberculosis’ comes from the Latin word ‘tuberculum’, which means a small swelling or nodule. The eight countries all over the world with the highest rate of Tuberculosis are India, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and South Africa.
Tuberculosis, also referred to as TB, is a bacterial infection that affects the lungs and some other tissues in the body.
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, and it can affect some other body parts like the brain, spinal cord, and kidney, along with the lungs.
Tuberculosis has been divided into two categories: active TB and latent TB.
A person suffers from active TB when he/she gets infected with TB bacteria and gets sick immediately. It is important for the person affected to get timely medical attention.
A person suffers from latent TB when he/she has the TB bacteria in the body but doesn’t fall sick.
A person can be infected when he/she catches the germs and bacteria released by the infected person through coughing, sneezing, etc. However, it is important to keep in mind that TB is not spread through touching, sharing the same utensils, sexual intercourse, etc., because the tuberculosis bacteria does not survive on surfaces.
People with weak immune systems are prone to catching TB easily when they come in contact with an infected person. Hence, patients with diabetes, cancer, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and poor nutrition have a higher chance of getting TB.
Some other risk factors which can contribute to a person getting infected with TB are as follows:
- Working or spending time in a nursing home or hospital
- Living with a family member/friend who has active TB for an extended duration
- Travelling to countries prone to TB
- Excessive smoking
- Kidney problems
Latent Tuberculosis doesn’t have any signs and symptoms. However, there is a set of common symptoms for active TB. They are as follows:
- Persistent aggressive coughing
- Pail and palpitations in the chest area
- Body weakness and fatigue
- Fever and chills
- Excessive sweating at night
- Loss of appetite
- Coughing up phlegm with mucus or blood
- Sudden weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Abdominal pain and cramping
To detect if you have TB germs and bacteria in your body, the health examiner might suggest a couple of tests like a blood test or skin test. A blood test is a simple procedure where a needle is inserted into your veins to draw some blood. The collected blood sample will then be sent to the lab to detect TB-causing bacteria.
A skin test is also referred to as the Mantoux Tuberculin test. In the skin test, a small amount of sterile solution called tuberculin which is derived from the mycobacterium tuberculosis, is injected into the skin. If the immune system reacts to the solution, it confirms the TB infection.
Usually, a wheal is formed on the forearm where the solution is injected. Health practitioners inspect the wheal closely to diagnose the disease.
Timely detection and treatment of TB are very important. Otherwise, it can prove to be fatal. A doctor will determine your treatment plan depending on various factors like age, gender, the severity of TB infection, duration of exposure, existing medical condition, medical history etc.
Usually, patients are given a combination of medication for 7 to 9 months. The medicines are a combination of a variety of drugs like isoniazid, ethambutol, rifapentine, pyrazinamide, etc. It is important to follow the full course of medication; otherwise, the infection can come back at any time. Although latent TB has no visible symptoms, it has to be treated. Patients with latent are prescribed an antibiotics course of 3 to 6 months.
You never know where and how you can catch a TB infection. If you live near a person with TB or in a TB-prone area, it is advisable to follow some preventive measures, as listed below:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
- Maintain distance from people who are coughing and sneezing
- Wear a mask when visiting a person infected with TB
- Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing in public
Due to the high rate of Tuberculosis in the country, when patients first hear about it, they easily get scared. However, if diagnosed on time, Tuberculosis can be easily treated. With the right medication and care, it can be treated fully.
If you or your loved one is suffering from TB and need specialist treatment, do not worry. Visit the CK Birla Hospital nearest to you or book an appointment with Dr. Kuldeep Grover to get the best treatment plan for Tuberculosis. The highly qualified doctor and the cutting-edge technology at the hospital will provide you with the best possible care.