Tuberculosis (TB): Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Risk Factors
Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne bacterial infection caused by a type of bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis. The infection primarily attacks your lungs and if not treated early, permanent lung damage can result. Tuberculosis can also spread to other parts of the body such as the intestines, bones and joints, brain, skin and other tissue of the body. It can be classified into two categories: namely active tuberculosis (TB) and latent tuberculosis (TB).
Causes of Tuberculosis (TB)
Mycobacterium tuberculosis usually spreads from person to person through airborne droplets, which are produced when the infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. Tuberculosis (TB) is, however, not easy to catch; you cannot get it from shaking hands with an infected person or sharing food, but by inhaling the air that contains germs. You are likely to catch it from someone who is close to you like family members, friends and co-workers.
Risk factors of Tuberculosis (TB)
Although anyone can get infected with tuberculosis, there are certain factors that can increase your risk. You are at higher risk of getting infected with tuberculosis if:
- You have HIV/AIDS or diabetes with severe kidney disease
- Your body weighs low due to poor nutrition
- You are in contact with people with tuberculosis (TB) infection such as friends, family or colleagues
- You take drugs or consume excessive alcohol which has weakened your immune system and made you more vulnerable to tuberculosis or increased your chances of getting tuberculosis (TB)
- You live or work in areas more vulnerable to tuberculosis (TB) infection
- You are a health worker, dealing with patients who are at high risk of tuberculosis (TB).
A healthy immune system fights the tuberculosis (TB) bacteria. Thus, babies and children may also have high chances because their immune systems are not fully developed.
Signs & symptoms of Tuberculosis (TB)
A person with latent Tuberculosis (TB) cannot spread the infection to others as it is not contagious and may not show symptoms because their immune system is protecting them from getting sick. However, it is possible for latent TB to develop into active TB if that individual’s immune system cannot stop the bacteria from growing and starts showing symptoms such as:
- Bad cough that lasts for 3 weeks or longer
- Pain in chest
- Coughing blood or sputum
- Fever or night sweats
- Weight loss or no appetite
Diagnosis of Tuberculosis (TB)
Tuberculosis (TB) can be tested in two ways, namely skin test and blood test. For skin test, into the skin of your lower arm, you will be injected with a small amount of fluid to check if you have swelling after 2-3 days in the same area or not. If the test is positive, you probably have TB. These two tests only tell if a person has TB or not; if the test is positive then other
tests are needed to check if it is latent TB or active TB, such as chest X-ray or CT, or acid fast bacillus tests (sputum tests).
Treatment of Tuberculosis (TB)
Both latent TB and active TB can be treated with antibiotics but with different courses. Tuberculosis (TB) it can be cured if all effective medicines are available but the TB infected person has to be responsible enough to complete the course of medication. If not, s/he may fall sick again and may not be able to recover easily. For latent TB, it is often a 3-9 months course of 1-2 antibiotics and for active TB, your doctor may prescribe 2 to 4 or more antibiotics for 6-9 months or longer.
It is pivotal for people with latent infection to take correct medicines so that it does not develop into active TB. In many cases, people show significant improvement within few weeks of starting treatment with the infection no longer contagious. Therefore, completing your medicine course is the most crucial step to protect yourself and others from tuberculosis.
Side effects of the medication of Tuberculosis (TB)
Tuberculosis (TB) drugs can have side effects which vary on what medicine you are taking. It includes:
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Painful or swollen joints
- Belly pain
- Skin rashes
In countries where tuberculosis is more common, TB vaccine Bacilli Calmette-Guerin (BCG) are given to infant sand small children. This vaccine is not very effective on adults, so is not recommended in general use. It is recommended majorly for children living with people infected with active tuberculosis who can’t take antibiotics.
What is drug-resistant Tuberculosis (TB)?
Drug-Resistant TB is when the bacteria that causes TB becomes resistant to some or all the medications. Once drug resistant TB is developed, it is very difficult to treat it. It may require more and different medications with a longer period of treatment. Some injectable drugs can cause loss of hearing and balance problems.
Follow these preventive measures to help and protect yourself from getting infected with TB:
- Stay indoors. If infected with TB, limit your contact with other people by not going out to work or school and avoid sharing room with other people, particularly during the first few weeks of treatment.
- Ensure good ventilation. Tuberculosis germs remain suspended in the air for a long time in the absence of proper ventilation and can spread more easily in small, closed spaces where air doesn’t move. It is crucial to maintain proper ventilation of the room to reduce the risk of TB infection.
- Always cover your mouth. If infected, always cover your mouth when you laugh, sneeze, or cough using a tissue. Do not forget to pack and seal the used or soiled tissue in a bag before dumping it.
- Wear a face mask. If you are infected with TB, always wear a mask when you are around other people during the first 3 weeks of treatment to stop the spread of infection.
World TB Day
March 24 is observed as World Tuberculosis (TB) Day worldwide. On this day, various health organizations share and educate people about the impact of tuberculosis (TB), its prevention, control and raise awareness on the challenges in case of TB infection. If you or anyone you love shows TB infection symptoms, seek a doctor’s help and get tested. The best way of preventing TB from infecting others is getting diagnosed and early treatment. This is the most important move you can make to protect yourself and others from tuberculosis (TB). Consult our specialists here at Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre.
Best Hospital & Doctor For Tuberculosis (TB) Treatment in Ghaziabad & Delhi NCR
Dr. Neerav Tyagi is a pulmonologist with experience of more than 29 years. He has expertise in tuberculosis (TB), asthma, bronchiectasis and pneumonia. Dr. Neerav Tyagi is the first in Ghaziabad to start bronchoscopy.
Dr. Brijesh Prajapat is the Senior Consultant, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre and possesses expertise in pulmonary medicine, sleep medicine, and critical care medicine.