Tuberculosis(TB) is an infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The infection primarily affects the lungs, and it generally spread when one breathes the infected air during close contact when an infected person sneeze, cough, etc. The infection generally affects lungs, but it can affect other body parts as well. It is one of the most deadly diseases, and almost one-third of the world is found to be infected with M Tuberculosis. The disease generally diagnosed at advanced stages and if left untreated lead to death. The disease may remain dormant state for years without causing any symptoms. Some common symptoms of the disease are fever, fatigue, frequent weight loss, chronic cough, night sweats, etc.
Many patients do not present any symptoms initially, but once it becomes active, individuals may present symptoms such as prolonged cough, chest pain, etc. Those who are infected with tuberculosis may occasionally cough up blood in small amounts. Some other common signs of tuberculosis are coughing, fever, chills, frequent weight loss, fatigue, etc.
Some people are at higher risk of suffering from tuberculosis than others such as:
- Being in close contact with people who have an active TB infection
- People living in unhygienic conditions
- Nursing home residents or prison inmates
- Drinking alcohol and intake of intravenous drugs
- Those suffering from diabetes, HIV infection or certain cancers
Diagnosis of tuberculosis starts with physical examination. Your physician will examine your symptoms, and if he gets a doubt he may ask you to go for a chest X-ray, medical examination of sputum, skin tests, etc. However, it`s hard to diagnose this slow-growing bacterium but these tests can reveal evidence of active tuberculosis. Even if the bacterium is inactive, hardening and scarring of lungs shown in X-ray reveals the presence of TB. Medical examination of sputum on a slide under laboratory conditions may confirm the presence of tuberculosis like bacteria.
Treatment of TB starts with giving antibiotics to kill the bacteria, however its not that easy. There is no effective treatment to cure TB but antibiotics are suggested by most of the physicians. The unusual structure and chemical composition of the mycobacterial cell wall makes the antibiotics ineffective. Those who have a new onset are suggested to consume one antibiotic to prevent the condition to become severe while those who suffer from active TB are given combinations of antibiotics.
Vaccination of infants and controlling the active disease is the only way to prevent TB.