Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne disease caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis – M.tuberculosis) that often affects the lungs. According to WHO worldwide, TB is one of the top ten causes of death in the world and the leading cause from a single infectious agent (above HIV/AIDS). Two-third of the total new cases of TB in the world are in eight countries, with India topping the list. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
Spread of Tuberculosis
TB is spread from one person to another through the air, not by surface contact. When people with pulmonary (lung) or laryngeal (voice box) TB disease cough, sneeze, shout, or sing, Infectious airborne particles carrying the M. tuberculosis bacteria (called droplet nuclei) of 1– 5 microns in diameter are generated. These tiny particles remain suspended in the air for many hours depending on the environment. Transmission occurs when a person inhales droplet nuclei containing M. infectiousness of a person with TB disease is directly related to the number of tubercle bacilli that he or she expels into the air. Persons who expel many tubercle bacilli are more infectious than patients who expel few or no bacilli.
As per the WHO, people infected with TB have a 5 – 10 per cent lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. Those with compromised immune systems like people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes; or people who use tobacco, have a higher risk of falling ill..
Thus the result of interaction of the inhaled bacilli with the immune system decides the further course Latent TB Infection or TB Disease
TB is an airborne infectious disease. It is a bacterial disease, and Mycobacterium TB is the causative agent for this disease. The disease mainly occurs in the lungs, but it can also spread to other parts such as bones, joints, genitourinary system, lymphatic system, and central nervous system. TB is entirely treatable and preventable.
Types of TB
TB bacteria has infected approximately one-fourth of the world’s population. However, not all infected people show symptoms. There are two types of TB infection:
- Latent TB (Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI)): In this type of TB, the immune system is limiting the spread of the infection, and thus, there are no symptoms. However, when the immune system compromises, the condition comes in the active state. Persons with LTBI have M. tuberculosis in their bodies, but do not have TB disease and cannot spread the infection to other people.
- Active TB (TB Disease): Approximately 90% of patients with active TB have a history of latent TB. These patients have symptoms of TB and can spread the disease.
TB disease can be Pulmonary involving the lungs primarily or Extrapulmonary any other site other than lungs
Symptoms of TBmedicine
People with latent TB do not experience any symptoms. The signs in case of active TB are:
- Persistent coughing with or without blood
- Chest pain
- Weakness and persistent fatigue
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
When to See a Doctor?
The signs and symptoms of TB may overlap with the presence of other conditions. You should book an appointment with the doctor if:
- You have a feeling of tiredness all the time,
- You have unexplained weight loss,within short period of time
- If you have HIV infection,
- If you have met a person having active TB,
- If you have a high fever and chills,
- If you have persistent coughing
Request an appointment at Apollo Hospitals
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Treatment for TB
Medications thoroughly treat the infection. Lifestyle modifications also help in managing the disease during the period of tuberculosis treatment.
- Medications: The doctor prescribe various drugs according to the TB treatment guidelines based on the type of TB. TB is a treatable and curable disease. Active, drug-susceptible TB disease is treated with a standard 6-month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs in the first two months followed by continuing 3 drugs in the next 4 months. The treatment may be extended up to 9 months by the treating doctor depending on the response and as per the guidelines
- Lifestyle changes: Various lifestyle changes help in managing TB during the period of tuberculosis treatment.
Lifestyle Changes to Treat TB at Home
Various lifestyle changes also help in the management of TB. Incorporating these modifications in your life helps in early recovery and improve physical and psychological health during the tuberculosis treatment period.
- Take medication on time: If you are in the habit of delaying the administration of medicine, you need to change this habit for good as early as possible. Taking the medication on time allows maintaining a definite concentration level of drug in the blood. It is essential for killing pathogens.Maintain time schedule of the TB drugs and follow it regularly. If you have forgotten to take the medication on that day get in touch with your health care provider to help you
- Complete the full course of treatment: The treatment for TB continues for a relatively long time( six to nine months) compared to other bacterial infections. Many people get fed up with long treatment and discontinue medications. Never do that. It will result in the disease’s progression, and then you have to restart the treatment right from the start.
- Many patients start feeling better as the treatment goes on and get a feeling of being cured. Such patients at times are lured to stop treatment on their own without consulting the treating doctor. This can be detrimental and lead to development of Multi Drug Resistant ( MDR) tuberculosis. Do not stop anti TB medication without medical advice
- TB medications do have side effects which your treating doctor will also alert you regarding. Most common are Nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, joint pains, red coloured urine and sweat and blurring of vision. Report to your doctor if you experience these for further work up if necessary. Most of the time these are temporary and settle down. Blurring of Vision should not be neglected.
- Do not blame yourself or your fate for being affected by the disease. Be positive and determine yourself to put all efforts to recover completely. Think positive and explore ways to be positive in your attitude
- Follow your hobbies: TB is a contagious disease. There is a restriction for meeting with other people during the initial tuberculosis treatment period. Involve yourself in your hobbies such as painting or writing, reading. It will prevent negativity from entering your life.
- Always stay connected with your friends and family members: People with TB blame themselves for the disease and isolate themselves. Isolation may also be due to physical inability. It may lead to depression, anxiety, and a lack of self-confidence. To overcome this, you stay in contact with your friends and family members.
- Learn to manage stress and emotions: You should learn to manage stress and feelings during the tuberculosis treatment period. You may opt for meditation or yoga for this purpose. These will help you in coping with stress during the tuberculosis treatment period.
- Healthy diet: Your body is fighting against severe infection and is in recovery mode. A healthy diet is essential for providing enough energy to the body. Incorporate fresh fruits, vegetables, and fruit juices in your diet. Consume porridge, wheat, and ragi, along with pulses and milk products. Increase your intake of foods containing a high level of vitamin C and Vitamin E such as amla, orange, carrots, and nuts.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol: Do not smoke and drink during the treatment period. If you smoke while taking the medications, it may affect your treatment. Smoking may also increase the risk of TB relapse. Certain drugs for treating TB harm the liver. Drinking alcohol while taking these may increase the excess burden on the liver.
- Take rest and adequate sleep: You should take sufficient rest to allow the body to heal internally. Sound sleep also induces positive thoughts and keeps you fresh.
- Stay positive: TB treatment is slightly more challenging than managing other infections. Remain cool, calm, and positive and control your varying emotions such as anger, allowing your body to develop a self-healing habit.
- Routine check-up: Never skip your regular check-up schedule. The routine check-up will help the doctor to determine the efficacy of current therapy. The doctor also evaluates the impact of drugs on other organs such as the liver through various tests.
Complications of TB
If not treated, TB may result in life-threatening complications. The disease may damage the lungs and may spread to various other organs. Some of the difficulties of TB are:
- Damage to joints
- Heart diseases
- Kidney problems
- Liver problems
- Meningitis (Inflammation in the membrane of the brain)
- Spinal problems
Prevention of TB
You can prevent yourself and others from getting TB by implementing the following measures:
- If you are suffering from latent TB, take medications in time to prevent the infection from getting active.
- If you have an active infection, avoid meeting with friends and family members. Stay at home.
- If you are traveling to an area with a high risk of TB, do not spend significant time in crowded places or with sick people.
TB is a contagious disease with effective treatment. Various lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol, and taking medications on time help manage TB.
Who is at most risk for TB?
Following people are at increased risk for TB:
- People in their productive years
- People with HIV
- People with a compromised immune system
- People with smoking and drinking habits
What is Multi-drug resistant TB?
Multi-drug resistant TB is resistant to first-line anti-TB drugs. They require aggressive treatment, which may continue for up to 2 years. The medications are expensive and have toxic effects.
What is DOTS? DOTS is Directly Observed Treatment Short-course strategy, which is an effective and cost-effective therapy for TB management.