Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that often attacks the lungs. However, it can also spread to the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by bacteria, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. TB is present in most parts of the world, and remains one of the leading cause of death worldwide.
TB can affect anyone of any age. However, people with weakened immune systems, like HIV+ and IV drug users are at an increased risk of being infected. It can be cured using antibiotics if properly consumed.
- TB is spread from one infected person to another via tiny droplets.
- Drinking milk from an infected cow also transmits TB.
There are two types of TB: Latent and active. When a person has latent TB, there are no symptoms and it isn’t contagious.
Active TB on the other hand, is contagious and could develop symptoms either in the first few weeks or years later after coming in contact with the TB bacteria.
Active TB includes these symptoms:
- Persistent cough that lasts 3 weeks or more.
- Constantly feeling lethargic.
- Pain in your chest or pain when breathing or coughing.
- Coughing up blood.
- Drastic weight loss.
- Difficulty in breathing or wheezing.
- Chills and night sweats.
- Loss of appetite
It is important to regularly check with doctors since a seemingly healthy person could be carrying strains of TB. Latent TB can change into active TB and can cause a lot of problems to the infected person.
Other steps you can take are:
- Rooms with good ventilation and natural light is needed, since sunlight is a source of UV rays which kills Bacilli.
- Quarantine an infected person; do not ask friends or family to visit you when you’re sick, and don’t visit an infected person.
- Do not go to work or school, stay at home or the hospital to prevent spreading the disease.
- Maintain good hygiene. Wear masks and wash your hands after using the bathroom or public transportation.
- When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth with a tissue. Dispose of the tissue by sealing it in a plastic bag.
- Follow through your doctors appointment and take the medicines even if you feel like you’re not infected anymore. It will be difficult to treat TB if any strain of bacteria develops resistance. In order to prevent that you need to have all medicines prescribed to you.
- Get BCG vaccinated to prevent infection and encourage others to be vaccinated as well.
- Drink pasteurized milk.
- Ethambutol, Thioacetazone, Rifampicin, or Streptomycin are drugs to cure TB.
- It is possible for some strains of bacteria causing TB to be resistant to antibiotics. Doctors will prescribe a range of antibiotics to treat this case. Consequently, it might take a longer time to cure.
- An injectable antibiotic, such as Amikacin, Kanamycin, or Capreomycin can also be given. Newer antibiotic treatments, such as Linezolid and Bedaquiline are available too.