Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB generally affects the lungs but also can spread to any part of the body. Many years ago, these diseases called “consumption” because there wasn’t proper medication and treatment available for the patient and hence the patient would be ‘consumed’ or often die due to it. Today, with advancement in science tuberculosis in most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
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Tuberculosis is a communicable disease; it is generally passed on from an already infected person. When a person with TB infection coughs, sneezes, or talks, small droplets of saliva or mucus are expelled into the air, which can be inhaled by another person. The bacteria are then transmitted to the lymphatic system and bloodstream and spreads to other organs. The bacteria further multiplies and then you get TB. There maybe a case where a person has inhaled the TB bacteria but their immune system is able to control itself against it. In rare cases there is a type of TB that is transmitted by drinking unpasteurized milk. The bacteria causing this atypical TB is called Mycobacterium bovis.
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Symptoms of TB may vary with the organ affected by it. In most cases TB hits the lungs, its symptoms are:
* A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
* Chest Pain in the chest
* Coughing up blood
Other symptoms of active TB disease include
* Fatigue or Weakness
* Acute Weight loss
* Loss of appetite
* Sweating at night
Though there are many methods of prevention of TB, but none of these methods guarantee its prevention.
- TB vaccine
- Bacillus Calmette-Guerin [BCG] vaccine.
- Preventive therapy of household members
- Preventive therapy for latent TB infections
- Preventive therapy for at-risk people
- Isoniazid (INH) - can be used as a preventive medication or for those with latent TB.
- Rifampin - used preventively for INH-resistent TB strains
- Lung X-ray screening for early detection
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Active TB is treated with a mixture of medications along with isoniazid. Rifampin (Rifadin), ethambutol (Myambutol), and pyrazinamide are the drugs commonly used to treat active TB in conjunction with isoniazid (INH). In the initial two months of therapy four drugs are taken to aid killing any potentially resistant strains of bacteria. After that the medication may be reduced to two drugs depending on the drug sensitivity. Streptomycin is a drug that is in form of injection and maybe used when TB is severe or the patient is not responding to the Oral medication.
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