The following are some of the key points that you need to understand about Tuberculosis:
Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease caused by bacteria. The bacteria live in the lungs and other organs of infected people.
When these healthy people cough or sneeze, they spread germs from one person to another. These germs may cause an infection called TB which is usually curable with antibiotics if caught early enough. However, if not treated properly, it can progress into a life threatening condition called tuberculosis (TB).
In the United States there were over 300,000 cases of TB reported in 2010. Of those cases, only 1% resulted in death.
There have been no new cases diagnosed since 2009. According to CDC statistics, the number of TB patients has decreased every year since 2000 when there was a large increase in drug resistant strains of TB.
There are three main types of TB: non-typhoidal, acute and chronic. Non-typhoidal TB is caused by bacteria that grow on the skin and mucous membranes such as the nose, mouth, throat and eyes.
Symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue and shortness of breath. Acute TB is caused by bacteria that grow in the lungs or bloodstream. It can lead to pneumonia if left untreated. The most common types of tuberculosis are pulmonary and laryngeal it is commonly known as ” Consumption” because it attacks the lungs and makes you feel as if you are being consumed from the inside out.
Here are some more facts about tuberculosis:
Tuberculosis, or TB, is a contagious disease that affects your lungs and respiratory system.
Tuberculosis can be deadly,so it is important to seek treatment right away if you think you may have it.
You can get tuberculosis by breathing in infected air from an infected person who is coughing nearby, or by drinking contaminated water.
The immune system usually eliminates tuberculosis bacteria. But when the immune system can’t control the infection, tuberculosis bacteria can thrive in the lungs and cause disease.
This is when someone would have symptoms and be diagnosed with tuberculosis.
You can’t get tuberculosis from a person who has it until you are in contact with them.
If you have been exposed to tuberculosis, or think you may have become infected, see a doctor immediately. If not treated properly, tuberculosis can be deadly or even cause meningitis.
Who Is Most At Risk?
Tuberculosis mostly affects the lungs, but it can also affect other areas such as the spine, the brain and the kidneys. Most people with tuberculosis have had it for at least a year before it was detected, but it can take as little as 4-6 weeks to develop the symptoms.
The following are people who may be more at risk of getting tuberculosis:
Those who come in direct contact with someone who has a weakened immune system due to HIV/Aids or cancer treatment.
Travellers to foreign countries where tuberculosis is common, such as certain parts of Africa, Asia, and South America.
Persons who use IV drugs and share needles.
Persons who have been incarcerated or are involved in prostitution.
Persons who have had a transplant, spent time in a nursing home or spent time in a foreign country where they may have been exposed to tuberculosis.
A “smoker” is someone who has smoked at least one cigarette daily for at least one year.
It is important to note that anyone can get tuberculosis at any time if exposed.
TREATMENT OF TUBERCULOSIS
Treating tuberculosis usually consists of taking several drugs for at least 6 months to a year. The length of treatment depends on how severe the infection is.
This is why it is important to seek medical help right away if you think you may have tuberculosis, or if you are in a high risk group. If the disease is allowed to progress without treatment, it can become contagious and put others at risk.
The following are the most common drugs used for treating tuberculosis:
Isoniazid (INH)– This drug is taken daily by mouth for at least 6 months or longer, depending on how severe your infection is. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headache, tongue weakness, and hepatitis.
However, serious liver problems are rare. Your doctor may order routine blood tests to monitor your liver function during therapy. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take isoniazid.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is a lung infection that is highly contagious. The disease can also affect other parts of the body such as the brain, the kidneys, and the spine.
Tuberculosis is curable and most people with a healthy immune system will make a full recovery.
BEING VACCINATED AGAINST TUBERCULOSIS
The primary defense against tuberculosis is the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine. It is a live vaccine that is given to newborns within the first month of their life.
The vaccine creates a small scar, or lesion, at the site of injection and it also causes a low grade fever in some children. The vaccine is more effective in children between the ages of 4 and 6, compared to newborn babies.
A single vaccination will not protect you from tuberculosis. You will need to get a “booster” shot every 5 to 10 years throughout your lifetime.
The booster will ensure that your body continues producing the T cell immune response it did after the first shot.
The only problem with the vaccine is that it does not always provide 100% protection against tuberculosis. It may reduce the severity of the disease if you should ever become infected, however.
Other than the vaccine, there is not much you can do to prevent getting tuberculosis. Some people believe that a healthy diet and lifestyle can keep this disease at bay, but there is no scientific evidence that this is true.
The disease is also not highly associated with poverty or social status. Any person from any walk of life can get infected with tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis is a very curable disease and the vaccine is one of the best protections you can currently get against it. If you are interested in getting it, consult your primary care physician or he/she can direct you to a specialist.
Famous People Affected by Tuberculosis
Do you remember the movie “The Elephant Man”?
The main character, John Merrick, suffered from neurofibromatosis, but was believed to actually have untreated tuberculosis.
Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Charlie Chaplin, and Agatha Christie all suffered and recovered from tuberculosis during their lifetimes.
Recent medical studies suggest that these people actually had a different disease altogether, which they were misdiagnosed with. X-rays and CAT scans have revealed that each of these people actually had severe lung infections caused by a fungus rather than tuberculosis, which would have been treatable.
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