Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB is spread through the inhalation of infected droplets from coughing or sneezing. People with active TB infections are usually diagnosed when they develop symptoms such as fever, cough, weight loss, fatigue and shortness of breath. Treatment consists of antibiotics to kill off the bacteria causing the infection. If not treated, the disease may progress to become life threatening.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are around 200 million cases of TB worldwide each year. The WHO reports that in 2015, 10 million people became sick from TB and 1.8 million died from the disease worldwide.
Tuberculosis is the leading infectious cause of death worldwide. It is more common in developing countries and people with weakened immune systems. In the United States, TB is rare, but it is still present. In fact, in 2015, an estimated 500 people in the U.S.
died from TB.
Tuberculosis is a potentially fatal disease caused by a bacterium that affects the lungs and airways. It is spread through the air when people who have TB in their lungs cough or sneeze. People with weakened immune systems, such as those living with HIV, are more susceptible to the disease.
The symptoms of TB are similar to illnesses such as the common cold or flu and may not be immediately obvious. Symptoms may include a cough lasting three weeks or more, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever, fatigue, night sweats and trouble breathing.
Tuberculosis is curable and most modern medical professionals are able to treat people before symptoms develop or identify the infection early on.
Prognosis usually depends on how far the disease has progressed. In its early stages, a person usually makes a full recovery. About 30 percent of people who contract the disease but don’t show symptoms will go on to develop it later in their life. Of those who are diagnosed and treated early, 95 percent will make a full recovery.
If the disease becomes severe, the patient may suffer from permanent lung or kidney damage and in some cases, death. If the infection has spread to other parts of the body, such as the brain or spinal cord, the outlook is much less favorable. The mortality rate for this type of TB is nearly 100 percent.
There is a growing concern that tuberculosis is becoming drug resistant and there are few treatment options left to patients. This is especially concerning in third-world countries where people with the highest incidence of infection also have the least access to medical care.
Tuberculosis is typically diagnosed based on a physical exam and patient history. If the disease is far enough along, certain tests will be ordered to see if the patient’s sputum (coughing up of mucus) contains TB bacteria.
If the disease is in its early stages and a patient has no symptoms, the standard treatment is to take antibiotics for six to nine months. This is the best way to prevent the disease from becoming an active infection. In cases where a person’s immune system is weakened, they may be given a combination of antibiotics for nine months to a year.
If a person has an active infection, they may be given a combination of drugs for at least six months up to a year.
In recent years, there was a real fear that tuberculosis may become immune to all known drugs. Fortunately, this has not yet occurred, but the concern remains.
Complications from tuberculosis are common. They include, but are not limited to, pleurisy, meningitis, other types of pneumonia and blood poisoning. Death is more common when drugs are unavailable or for patients with HIV.
There are various types of tuberculosis, each with its own set of characteristics and treatment approach.
Pulmonary tuberculosis is the most common type of tuberculosis and is found in the lungs. It is the only type that can be spread through the air and is a common cause of lung infections.
Lymphatic tuberculosis affects the lymph nodes and is typically very rare.
Bone tuberculosis usually occurs in the spine and other areas of the bones. While this is typically a very rare type of tuberculosis, the incidence is on the rise due to an increase in HIV patients who have developed it.
Miliary tuberculosis is a rare type of tuberculosis that occurs when small masses of tubercles form throughout the body. It is usually only seen in immunosuppressed patients, such as people with advanced HIV.
Tuberculoma is a rare type of tuberculosis that occurs when tuberculosis bacteria infect a host of cancer cells and multiply. While it can occur in nearly any type of cancer, it is most commonly found in lung cancer.
Granulomatous is a type of tuberculosis that is most commonly found in the lungs. It is commonly diagnosed in people with HIV or those who have received organ transplants.
Regardless of the type of tuberculosis, all patients will most likely be given a combination of antibiotics for at least six months.
The cell wall of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is extremely difficult to break down, so several different types of antibiotics are typically combined in the treatment approach. While a combination is nearly always used, exactly which antibiotics are chosen will depend on several factors, such as the infection’s severity and other patient characteristics.
Treatment is typically for at least six months and people with weakened immune systems may be given antibiotics for a year or longer. Due to the long-term nature of tuberculosis treatment, patients will be closely monitored during and after treatment to ensure the best chances of avoiding a relapse.
There is currently no vaccine available for tuberculosis. It has been proposed that a vaccine containing two different components be used: an outer surface protein and an internal acid-fast bacteria component. The vaccine is not yet available for human use.
Tuberculosis is a common disease that affects nearly three percent of the world’s population. It primarily affects people who have a weakened immune system and spreads through the air. It typically attacks the lungs, but it can also attack the bones and lymph nodes.
Tuberculosis is typically treated with a combination of antibiotics for anywhere from six months to a year. While most people respond well to treatment, there is always a small chance of a treatment-resistant infection or tuberculosis reactivation years after successful treatment. This has made some government officials call for mandatory tuberculosis testing.
The tuberculosis bacterium was first seen by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in the mid 1600s, but it wasn’t until 1882 that the bacterium was identified by Robert Koch. The discovery was more than fifty years ahead of its time, as the medical community at the time believed that the disease was caused by a lack of hygiene.
The most common type of tuberculosis is pulmonary tuberculosis, which typically affects the lungs. It is spread through airborne transmission when people who are infected talk, cough, or sneeze.
The second most common type of tuberculosis is laryngeal tuberculosis, which is found in the vocal cords and respiratory system. Laryngeal tuberculosis is found most commonly in people who smoke or drink a lot of alcohol.
Tuberculosis can also affect other organs in the body, such as the kidney and spinal column.
Tuberculosis used to be one of the biggest killers of people, but thanks to the advent of antibiotics it is much easier to treat and cure.
However, as the human body has become more resistant to antibiotics and as tuberculosis bacteria have become resistant to drugs, tuberculosis has re-emerged as a killer.
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly eight million people contract tuberculosis every year and nearly two million people die from it annually.
This is a significant rise from the eight million people who died from tuberculosis in the entire twentieth century.
Thankfully, medical science has taken notice and several new drugs have been developed to help prevent and treat tuberculosis. One of the most promising treatments is a four-drug combination treatment regimen.
This regimen is currently being implemented in more than 100 high-burden countries, and most recently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
While this is certainly a good start, it is predicted that the treatment will fail in some areas due to drug resistance and ongoing conflict in the area.
The World Health Organization has also called for a preventative vaccine, but it won’t be available for at least five to ten years. Other countries, such as the United States, have not contributed to the funding of the vaccine.
The vaccine has been tested on humans and it shows promise for the future. However, there is some risk of side effects, such as joint pain and headaches.
In this day and age, it is important that a vaccine be developed as soon as possible in order to ensure that this deadly disease does not cause a massive epidemic.
While tuberculosis is not as easily communicable as some other illnesses, it can still be spread through the air when a contagious individual speaks, coughs, or sneezes. It can also be contracted through prolonged exposure to an infected person, such as living in the same household or working in the same area.
In short, the best way to avoid tuberculosis is to have your vaccinations and get checked out if you are a high-risk individual such as an immigrant or a health care worker.
If you do have tuberculosis, it is best to seek treatment as soon as possible in order to avoid complications. If you know you have been in close contact with someone who has tuberculosis, contact your local health department immediately.
Tuberculosis can potentially be beaten. However, it will take time and effort in order to achieve this.
Fortunately, there is a bright future for people of all nations if they can put aside their differences and work for the common good.
After all, tuberculosis doesn’t know politics. It just attacks the human body. It doesn’t care if you’re a soldier, a doctor, or an everyday civilian.
In fact, it is the everyday civilian who is most at risk of all. The soldier and the doctor are likely to get treatment, but that civilian might not have access to healthcare.
If we work together, we can achieve our goal of making tuberculosis a disease of the past.
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- Course and prognosis of tuberculosis in children (EM Lincoln – The American journal of medicine, 1950 – Elsevier)
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