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Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS

Tuberculosis

Overview
Symptoms
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Common Name/Other Name: TB; Koch's Disease; Wasting Disease; White Plague

Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacterium mainly targets the lungs but it can also attack other parts of the body such as the kidneys, spine, and brain. It spreads from one person to another through tiny air droplets released by infected persons when they cough or sneeze. The body may harbor tuberculosis bacteria but can be healthy enough not to show any signs or symptoms. Thus, there are two conditions related to tuberculosis:

  • Latent/Inactive Tuberculosis - You can be infected by tuberculosis infection but not show any signs and symptoms because your healthy immune system can render it inactive. However, a compromised immune system, such as in cases of HIV/AIDS, may cause the latent bacteria to become active. People with latent tuberculosis cannot spread the bacteria.
  • Active Tuberculosis - Even if the bacteria are inactive, it is important to seek treatment immediately before it becomes active tuberculosis. TB can be fatal if not treated properly.

Even if the bacteria are inactive, it is important to seek treatment immediately before it becomes active tuberculosis. TB can be fatal if not treated properly.

Symptoms
  • Cough that lasts three or more weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain or pain while breathing or coughing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
Risk Factors
  • Compromised Immune System
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Diabetes
    • End-stage kidney disease
    • Cancer and cancer treatment
    • Strong medications for certain illnesses
    • Malnutrition
    • Age
  • Location. Traveling or living in areas with high rates of tuberculosis can increase the risk of contracting the infection.
  • Substance Abuse such as drug, alcohol or smoking can weaken the immune system.
  • Working or Living Conditions. Regular contact with ill persons such as when working in a hospital, prison, refugee camps or nursing homes can increase chances of exposure.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs

In TB treatment, completing the treatment is the key to recovery. It is crucial to finish the full course of treatment and to follow the drug regimen exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you stop too soon or skip doses, the bacteria that are still active inside the body can become resistant to drugs.

Antibiotics and antitubercular agents are taken for at least six to 9 months. The exact medication and length of treatment will depend on different factors like your age, the form of TB (if latent or active), possible drug resistance, location of infection in the body and your overall health. Seek consultation for more information regarding specific drugs.

Treatment and Management

Management

  • Complete the full course of treatment.
  • Wear a face mask or cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay at home during the first two weeks of treatment when the infection is still contagious.
  • Boost your immune system by eating healthy.

Prevention

  • Avoid spending long periods of time in an enclosed room with anyone with active TB until they have been treated for at least 2 weeks.
  • Get vaccinated. The TB vaccine is called Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and is widely used in countries where tuberculosis is more common. It is generally used to protect children from severe tuberculosis but it is not as effective in adults.
  • Keep your house well ventilated because TB germs spread more easily in closed spaces where air does not circulate.
Home Remedies
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