Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. TB is caused by bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis which most often affects the lungs. It is an airborne disease. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
Tuberculosis can be differentiated into two types:
Latent TB – Bacteria remain in the body in an inactive state. They cause no symptoms and are non-contagious, but they can become active.
Active TB – the bacteria do cause symptoms and can be transmitted to others.
People with compromised immune systems, such as malnutrition or diabetes, people living with HIV, people who use tobacco have higher risk of falling ill with tuberculosis.
Sign and Symptoms:
When a person develops active TB, it can cause symptoms such as:
• A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
• Chest pain
• Coughing up blood or sputum
Other symptoms of TB disease may include:
• Weakness or fatigue
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Night sweats
Sputum smear microscopy is the most specific test but a patient may have TB yet you may get a negative sputum analysis. There is no blood test that can be reliable to diagnose tuberculosis.
Chest X-ray, bronchoscopy and CT scan are often very useful for diagnosis of tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis is curable and preventable disease. Active, drug-susceptible TB is treated with a standard 6 month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs. Majority of TB cases can be cured with compliance with the treatment.
Directly observed therapy (DOT) is recommended. This involves a healthcare worker administering the TB medication in person to ensure that the course of treatment is completed.
Potential side-effects of the medications should be reported to a doctor and include:
• Dark urine
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
A few general measures can be taken to prevent the spread of active TB:
• Wearing a mask
• Covering the mouth
• Ventilating rooms can also limit the spread of bacteria.