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Tuberculosis is a serious infectious disease that can affect the lungs. The bacteria spread through sneezes and coughs making it a communicable disease. This disease was rare and limited to the Western Countries until 1985. The emergence of HIV virus has made tuberculosis a global disease to reckon with. Although the rate of TB has come down since 1993, it remains a top concern for many countries. The biggest worry is the fact that TB bacteria can build resistance to many drugs. Therefore, it is very important that a TB patient takes a variety of medication suggested by the doctor at the right time.
Although your body is already in possession of the bacteria leading to tuberculosis, your immune system is able to prevent you from becoming sick. Doctors have made a distinction between latent and active tuberculosis (TB)--
In case of latent TB, the bacteria in the body in a passive state and it causes no symptoms, and therefore it is not contagious. But, in the case of active TB, you would become sick and may even spread the disease to others. It can take place in the first few weeks or even after several months of being infected with TB bacteria.
Types of Tuberculosis:
There are two types of tuberculosis- Latent and Active.
- Latent Tuberculosis is a condition where the bacteria stays in the system of a person but doesn’t show up any symptoms of TB. Although this type of TB is not contagious, it requires treatment so that TB can be controlled from spreading.
- Then there is active tuberculosis. It shows symptoms in the first few weeks and can spread to another person as well.
What are the symptoms of active TB?
- If you are coughing for over three weeks and sometimes even coughing up blood, it can be a sign of TB.
- Chest pain and pain while coughing and breathing along with fatigue, fever, chills and night sweat are the common symptoms of TB along with loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss.
- TB may even affect other organs of your body, including your brain, spine and kidneys.
- When TB takes place outside the lungs, then the signs of TB can vary as per the organs that are involved. For instance, TB in the spine can cause back pain and that in kidneys may cause blood in the urine.
What are the causes of TB?
- TB is stemmed from a bacteria which spreads from individual to individual via the microscopic droplets that are released into the air.
- This may happen when an affected person is left untreated and he speaks or sneezes or coughs or laughs. Though the disease is contagious, it is not easy to be affected by it.
- As a result, you are much more likely to get affected with active tuberculosis from a person you live with or come in regular contact with, rather than a stranger.
- It is important to note here that people who are affected with TB and going through proper medications for over two weeks are no more contagious.
Tuberculosis - How to effectively treat it?
With the treatment for tuberculosis, one should have patience as it may take time to cure a person completely of tuberculosis and the associated symptoms. Many factors are taken into consideration while determining the course of the treatment for tuberculosis, some of which include
- Type of tuberculosis (Latent or Active).
- Age of the patient.
- The condition being drug resistant.
- The general health of the patient (if there are any other health conditions that may interfere with the treatment).
In the case of Active TB and that too, a drug-resistant type, the use of multiple drugs (simultaneously) may be needed to produce the desired results. The drugs commonly used include Pyrazinamide, Rifampin, Ethambutol, and Isoniazid. In most cases, the doctors suggest the drugs be continued for at least six- nine months for positive results.
Some patients with Active TB (drug resistant) may also benefit from the use of fluoroquinolones (antibiotics) taken along with capreomycin, amikacin, or kanamycin (mostly given in the form of injections). Most patients are required to follow the medication for 20-30 months duration.
Unlike the Active TB, in the case of Latent TB, a combination of drugs and medications is not required. A single TB specific drug is enough to treat the condition.
Therefore, it is important to seek medical assistance and detect if you have any such health complications concerning TB.