Tuberculosis or TB is a highly contagious airborne disease, which is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It typically affects your lungs and is characterized by the formation of greyish, hard nodules or tubercles.
Pathology of Tuberculosis
Diagnosis of the disease depends essentially on identifying the bacteria from the tissue. Methods of diagnosis usually include the following –
- Skin Test – The most common test for detection of tuberculosis is the skin test. During the procedure, a small dose of PPD tuberculin is injected onto the skin of the forearm. The injection site needs to be monitored after a couple of days. Swelling in the forearm, usually, a hard, red bump could mean that you have contracted tuberculosis.
- An X-ray of the Chest – Chest X-ray can reveal calcification, cavitations, and nodes in the upper lobes
- Sputum Cultures and Smears – These are mostly used to detect pulmonary tuberculosis. Three specimens of sputum early in the morning are collected on three separate days. The specimen is prepared on a slide and stained with an acid-fast dye before being observed under the microscope. The slide may show the characteristic AFB or acid-fast bacilli.
- Gastric Aspirates Test – This involves placing a tiny nasogastric tube in the abdomen early in the morning and gastric contents are suctioned and processed for culture and smears.
- Lymph Node Biopsy – The procedure involves removing an enlarged lymph node and culturing a portion of it. The remaining section is sent for staining and examined under a microscope.
- Biopsy – Biopsy is conducted when an abnormality develops in the airways during bronchoscopy. This involves threading a thin wire through the bronchoscope and attaching tiny biopsy forceps to its end in order to remove multiple tissue samples from the bronchi. The samples are sent to the laboratory for complete analysis.
Treatment of Tuberculosis
Studies show that in the majority of cases, patients were cured with the help of the right medication. The type and dosage of antibiotic treatment precisely depend on factors like – the patient’s age, health condition, and potential resistance to certain drugs, whether the disease is active or latent, and the infection site.
Patients with latent TB may require one type of antibiotic, while those having active TB – particularly MDR TB – are often prescribed multiple drugs for about 6-9 months.
Patients who received proper treatment on time have shown vast improvement on the health aspect. After a few weeks of undergoing treatment, you might be tempted to quit taking your TB medications, but it is important that you complete the full treatment course. Skipping doses may allow the bacteria to become drug-resistant, leading to tuberculosis that is more severe and difficult to cure.
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