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Are You at a Higher Risk of Developing TB?

MD-Tuberculosis & Chest Diseases, Diploma in Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases (DTCD), MBBS
Pulmonologist,  •  36 years experience
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TB is a major health problem in India, with nearly 12 lakh people getting diagnosed with the disease each year. The fact that more than one-third of the cases of TB remain undiagnosed, or are diagnosed but proper treatment is not opted for, makes it even more difficult to deal with the disease. Moreover, the TB bacilli, which causes the disease is present in its latent form in 40% Indians who possess a high risk of developing TB but do not exhibit any symptoms.

Who are prone to TB?

Although TB can affect people of any age or physical condition, some people are at a higher risk of developing the disease than others. People who are more prone to TB are:

- Anyone with a weak immune system
- Small children and elderly people
- People suffering from diabetes or detected to be HIV positive
- People who have been exposed to immunotherapy or have consumed steroids for a long time

What is the classification of TB?

TB is curable, but for correct treatment, it is necessary to diagnose the type of the disease correctly. TB can be broadly classified into the following types:

  • General TB: In this type of TB, the bacilli show sensitivity to most drugs required for treating the disease.
  • Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB): In this form of the condition, the bacilli show resistance to two major drugs required for treatment of TB, Isoniazid, and Rifampicin.
  • Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB): This type of TB is rarely observed and is caused by a bacilli which show resistance to most drugs including Isoniazid, Rifampicin, any fluoroquinolone and to at least one of three injectable second-line drug - Capreomycin, Kanamycin, and Amikacin.
  • Moreover, TB is also classified in two other forms - primary and secondary. Primary TB is the form, which affects a person who hasn't been previously exposed to the infection; whereas secondary TB refers to the reactivation of the infection in a previously infected person due to decline in health and immune system.

What are the treatment options available for TB?

Treatment of TB involves intake of certain prescription drugs for about 6 to 9 months. It is strongly recommended that the treatment is continued till the end and the drugs are consumed exactly in the way suggested by the physician. If the intake of drugs is stopped before the requisite period, the condition may relapse; and if the medications are not consumed correctly, the bacteria might develop a resistance to the drugs.

Treatment of MDR-TB and XDR-TB is a complicated process as any wrong step might prove to be fatal for the patient. It usually begins by conducting a drug-susceptibility test to identify the drugs to which the bacilli are resistant to. After the test results are revealed, the treatment plan is shaped accordingly and the patient is closely observed throughout the process. Moreover, treatment of drug-resistant TB always includes the use of directly observed therapy (DOT).


Related Tip: How To Prevent Tuberculosis(TB) From Spreading And Safeguard Yourself

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