Tuberculosis (TB), one of the most common infections in the world, is seen in both adults and children. A communicable disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, the symptoms will only show only when the infection becomes active, which may take several weeks. The phase when an infected person does not show any symptoms is called inactive tuberculosis or latent tuberculosis infection.
Though known to infect the lungs, Tuberculosis can infect any organ; and even a person with a healthy immune system has a 10% chance of contracting the disease.
How TB spreads
The bacterium can spread through only people with active TB infections. Sneezing, coughing or even talking can release the bacteria in the air, which can infect people who are breathing the same air.
- Cough that lasts for more than 2 weeks with a green, yellow or bloody sputum
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Night sweats
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Additional symptoms can also show if the disease has spread beyond the chest and lungs. For example, if lymph nodes are infected, there will be swelling of glands at the sides of the neck or underarms.
Causes of Tuberculosis
- Travelling/ living in places where TB is prevalent
- People with substance abuse problem
- People with weak immunity system and those suffering from grave illness such as HIV
- Health care workers who are exposed to patients with active TB
- People suffering from diabetes, kidney disease, malnutrition
- People who have been using steroids for a long time
- Pregnant women and people undergoing radiotherapy are at a higher risk than others.
- Patients should cover their nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing
- People who are at risk or in contact with a TB patient should be tested regularly
- Face masks should be used by healthcare professionals when dealing with patients suffering from TB
- It is important to take medications as per the doctor’s instructions. It is crucial to understand that if the medications are stopped in between the prescribed course, TB infection can recur.