Tuberculosis: How to avoid this dangerous disease?

Tuberculosis is a serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs caused by the bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis

The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.

Types of Tuberculosis:

There are two types of TB essentially latent TB and active TB.

Latent TB: This is an inactive form of TB. The bacteria is present in the body but doesn’t causes any symptoms. Although latent TB isn’t infectious, there are chances of it progressing to active TB, therefore it is important for people with latent TB to receive treatment.

Active TB: This form of TB shows symptoms and makes you unwell. It is contagious and must be treated immediately, or 50% of the cases can die.

Stages of Tuberculosis:

The following are the stages of TB:

 

  • Exposure: The initial phase in which a person has been in contact with, or exposed to, another person who has TB.
  • Latent TB infection: In this stage a person has TB bacteria in his or her body, but does not have symptoms of the disease.
  • Active TB:┬áThis describes the person who has signs and symptoms of an active infection.

Symptoms:

  • Coughing that lasts three or more weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite

Causes:

Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium mycobacterium tuberculosis that spreads from person to person through microscopic droplets released into the air. This can happen when someone with the untreated, active form of tuberculosis coughs, speaks, sneezes, spits, laughs or sings.

Risk factors for developing Tuberculosis

Anyone can get tuberculosis, but certain factors can increase your risk of the disease. These factors include:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Diabetes
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Certain cancers
  • Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy
  • Drugs to prevent rejection of transplanted organs
  • Some drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis.
  • Malnutrition
  • Pediatrics and/or geriatrics
  • Poverty
  • Chronic lung disease & smoking
  • Substance abuse & alcohol abuse

Complications:

  • Spinal pain, back pain and stiffness are common complications of tuberculosis.
  • Arthritis (Joint pain) due to TB
  • Meningitis
  • Liver & kidney diseases
  • Internal bleeding
  • Blood leaking into the lungs and alveoli
  • Heart disorders

Diagnosis:

There are several methods of diagnosing TB:

  • Blood tests: Such a test can be performed to confirm or rule out latent or active tuberculosis.
  • Imaging tests: X-Ray or CT scans are ordered to check for cavitations or lesion in the upper lobe of the lungs. If a person test positive for a tuberculin skin test, imaging may be done to remove possibility of pulmonary tuberculosis.
  • Sputum samples can be analyzed to test for drug-resistant strains of TB & checking for the present of the responsible bacteria.

Treatment:

Various drugs used to treat TB are:

  1. Isoniazid (INZ)
  2. Rifampicin (RIF)
  3. Rifapentin (RFP)
  4. Pyrazinamide (PYZ)
  5. Ethambutol (ETM)
  • Latent TB is treated with a combination of (INZ) with either (RIF) or (RFP). Duration of treatment is 3 to 9 months.
  • In new onset TB, RIF, INZ, PYZ & ETM is administered for the first couple of months in the following four months, a dose of RIF & INZ.
  • If drug resistant TB develops, treatment with multiple antibiotics is followed for 18-24 months.

Prevention & Management

  • The only available vaccine is the BCG vaccine. In children it decreases the risk of getting the infection by 20% and the risk of infection turning into active disease by nearly 60%.
  • Giving up smoking.
  • Wearing masks in polluted countries.
  • Avoiding exposure to industrial environments, silicon & asbestos dust.
  • Upliftment of the poor