Tuberculosis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

Reviewed by Dr. Hasan Feroz, M.D.,

Overview

Tuberculosis is the infection of lungs caused by Mycobacterium Tuberculous. Tuberculosis affects lungs but may also affects Spine, Brain, Kidneys, Eyes, Bones etc. It is a contagious disease. But in most cases it is seen that usually it affects the lungs.

Tuberculosis is the disease of ancient times as its remains founded in the peoples of Giza pyramids who buried in it. Tuberculosis is considered the disease of poor but it may affects anyone. The infection of tuberculosis is treatable and the outcome of treatment is 100 percent if medicines have been taken continuously for the said time.

Symptoms

In tuberculosis some patients experience symptoms while some patients may not having any symptoms this kind of infection is known as latent tuberculosis. The mycobacterium may lie latent in your body and when the immune system of the patient is weaken then bacteria becomes active. The Symptoms includes:-

  • Fever usually in night
  • Sweating in night
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Productive Cough
  • Weight Loss

A patient with tuberculosis of lungs may experience coughing with phlegm which may contain blood. The other parts of tuberculosis is known as EPTB (Extra Pulmonary Tuberculosis). The symptoms of EPTB is depends on the site of infection and the symptoms may be different like TB of bone patients may experience pain in the bones and unable to move that part.

Causes

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria named mycobacterium tuberculous which is found in the infected people who is infected with lungs tb. When the infected person sneezes, cough, speaking usually bacteria came out in droplets form and it is inhaled by the healthy person the healthy person may also be get affected.

The droplets of the tb is also find in the environment where a large number of affected person lives there and it is transmitted to the majority of peoples through droplets.

The Pulmonary tb is found to be contagious and other types of tb is not infectious for example if you have come in contact with a person who is suffering from spine tb and there is no chance of tuberculosis in yourself.

Diagnosis of Tuberculosis

The diagnosis of the disease is generally done by several examination which includes pathological plus radio-logical. On the basis of these tests your treating physician will be able to find out the final decision.

Chest X-Ray

This method is very common and the tb infection diagnosis is very easy by seeing the chest x-ray. Your doctor may ask you to go for chest x-ray where if there will be spots in your lungs then it will easily tells that you have tuberculosis infection. On the basis of chest X-ray your treatment will start. This test clearly tell you about the infection whether it is active or latent infection. Other tests like ESR, TST and Quantiferon tests do not clearly indicate the tb infection

Skin Test

This test is known as tuberculin skin test commonly known as Montoux test where the pathologist injects small amount of medicine under the skin of your arm and encircled it. After 2-3 days he checks the result whether it is negative or positive. This test is not so much reliable. Most of the patients who have active tb shows the negative result.

Blood Tests

There is a test named TB Gold test known as quantiferon test is used to diagnose the tuberculosis which tells you about the tb infection. This test also did not show you the exact result.

Sputum Test

Your doctor may collect your sputum of first morning preferably and test it for mycobacterium tuberculosis. This test is known as acid fast bacilli (AFB)

Treatment of Tuberculosis

The TB is a bacterial disease while the treatment of tuberculosis is differ from any other kind of bacterial infection because the bacteria of tb is stubborn type and generally do not die within weeks or fortnightly like other bacteria. So the treatment of Tuberculosis varies from 6 months to 24 months. The treatment of this disease is very tough and very painful specially the person who has crossed the age of 35 years.

There are many antibiotics used to treat tuberculosis and patient have to take 3 to 5 drugs at a time to kill the bacteria. Single drugs or two drugs administration may cause drug resistant tb whose treatment is very difficult.

Your treating physician may prescribe drugs which is used to treat the infection which are as follows:-

Rifampicin

Ethambutol

Pyrazinamide

Isnoniazid

Streptomycin

These are the first line drugs which is used to treat the tuberculosis. There are also second line, third line medications which is used to treat drug resistant, multi drug resistant tuberculosis.

The side effects of these drugs are unbearable and causes severe side effects which includes

Appetite loss

Dark Urine

Excess Fatigue

Tendency to Suicide

Numbness and tingling

Vertigo

Pain in joint

Dizziness

Skin Infection

Yellowing of Skin

Jaundice/ Increased Liver Enzymes

Fever

Nausea/Vomiting

It is necessary to take nourished food and supplements during the treatment of tuberculosis because the side effects of the drugs is very hard and it requires a lot of nourished foods and minerals.

Who is at Risk of TB Infection

Weaken immune system and sugar and diabetes patients is at risk of Getting tb infection. Also people who are alcoholic, Smokers and malnourished peoples are more prone to get the tuberculosis infection. Peoples who lives in unhygienic place and don’t care about personal hygiene is also prone to get the infection.

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