Everything You Need to Know About Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a severe and chronic lung infection. It is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis, a pathogenic bacteria that can be spread through the air from one individual to another. Tuberculosis can wreak havoc on the ability of your lungs to carry oxygen, as well as its performance.

What are the types of tuberculosis?

TB may be latent (inactive) or active. The bacteria (mycobacterium tuberculosis) can remain dormant in your body for numerous years before manifesting any symptoms.

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), if a person with active tuberculosis is left untreated, he or she may infect between 10 and 15 people every year.

Can your immune system fight TB?

Yes, a strong immune system can eliminate tuberculosis bacteria without you even knowing about it. But If your immune system becomes weakened, tuberculosis can become active, and symptoms will occur.

What is the first sign of tuberculosis?

A patient with TB usually has a persistent cough that can last three weeks or longer with bleeding or discolored sputum, sudden occurrences of chest pain, and discomfort during breathing or coughing.

Other Signs of Tuberculosis

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Chills and constant fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Excessive sweating throughout the night.

Tuberculosis takes time to detect because it manifests as a cold or flu in the early stages. It is extremely contagious, and therefore a tuberculosis sufferer must use separate items from others, such as utensils and clothing.

These symptoms do not always point to tuberculosis, and they can be signs of other infections and illnesses. If you are undergoing any of the symptoms mentioned, getting tested by a health care provider will help you decide the cause.

Is latent TB dangerous?

A person who has latent tuberculosis infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread tuberculosis to others. Latent tuberculosis also called inactive TB

Which part of your body can be affected by tuberculosis?

It usually mainly affects the lungs. But according to the Mayo Clinic, tuberculosis can further affect different parts of the body via the bloodstream, such as the kidneys, spine, or brain.

What are risk factors for developing TB?

According to the CDC, certain people have a higher chance of tuberculosis infection if they have the following health conditions:

  • Diabetics
  • HIV and AIDS
  • People that have contact with infected with any individuals who have tuberculosis disease
  • Drug users
  • People with malnutrition
  • Undertreated previous tuberculosis
  • People that are sick with another disease that weaken their immune system
  • On Immunosuppressant drugs (Transplant patients)
  • People who use tobacco

Can tuberculosis be cured?

TB can be cured by using several drugs (such as pyrazinamide, isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol). But it may take up to a year to rid the body of tuberculosis. The affected person must strictly obey the medical instruction given by the specialist, take the medications always, and do not stop taking them, even when he/she feel better. According to the CDC, if they cease taking the drugs too early, they may become sick again and can prompt the tuberculosis bacteria to be still alive and grow resistant to the medications.

Lastly, tuberculosis is a severe infection, so if you believe you may have been exposed to the infection, then you should go to your doctor and ask for a TB test.