Tuberculosis (TB), a potentially fatal infectious bacterial disease primarily affecting the lungs, is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is disseminated when a person with active tuberculosis in their lungs coughs or sneezes and someone else inhales the TB bacteria-laden droplets. Although the germs that cause tuberculosis can live in your body, your immune system can generally keep you from getting sick. As a result, specialists have distinguished between the following:
Latent TB: You have a tuberculosis infection, but the germs in your body remain dormant and have no symptoms. Latent tuberculosis, often known as
inactive tuberculosis or tuberculosis infection, is not communicable. But latent tuberculosis can develop into active tuberculosis, so treatment is essential.
Active TB: Also known as tuberculosis, it is a disease that makes you sick and, in most situations, can transmit to others. It might happen weeks or years after being infected with tuberculosis germs.
The following are signs and symptoms of active tuberculosis:
Coughing for three or more weeks.
Whooping up mucus or blood.
Pain in the chest or difficulty during inhaling or coughing.
The weight reduction that occurs unintentionally.
Sweats at night.
Tuberculosis can also harm other body parts, including the kidneys, spine, and brain. The signs and symptoms of TB that affect organs other than the lungs may be different. TB in the spine, for example, can cause back discomfort while tuberculosis of the kidneys can produce blood in the urine.
Separating is difficult, but separation with tuberculosis is a fantasy that only a few people can achieve. It’s critical to get intensive treatment at the right time. Thus, if you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is recommended that you should get tuberculosis tested for confirmation. During your visit to the doctor, he will look for swelling in your lymph nodes and listen to the noises your lungs produce when you breathe using a stethoscope. The following tests can be conducted for identifying tuberculosis:
A skin test (tuberculin skin test) is the most prevalent method used for aiding diagnosis, though blood tests are becoming more popular. On the inside of your forearm, a little quantity of tuberculin is injected just beneath the skin. Only a minor needle prick should be felt. A healthcare professional will examine your arm for swelling at the injection site within 48 to 72 hours. Tuberculosis infection is indicated by a hard, raised red lump. The size of the lump has an impact on the test result’s relevance. However, the tuberculosis skin test is unreliable and might lead to false findings.
Blood Test (Interferon Gamma
As with the tuberculin skin tests (TSTs), IGRAs should be used as an aid in
diagnosing infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These tests assess how your immune system reacts to tuberculosis germs. They do not help differentiate latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) from tuberculosis disease.
If you get a positive skin test, your doctor will most likely recommend a chest X-ray or a CT scan. There might be white patches in your lungs generated by your immune system blocking TB bacteria from entering your body, or it could be abnormalities in your lungs caused by active tuberculosis.
If your chest X-ray indicates symptoms of TB, your doctor may ask for
samples of your sputum (the mucus that comes up when you cough). These samples will help in analysing tuberculosis bacteria. Sputum samples can also be used to detect drug resistance for TB strains. This helps your doctor choose the most effective medications. The results of these tests might take four to eight weeks to arrive. Your doctor may recommend medication if you have latent TB and are at high risk of acquiring active tuberculosis. If you have active tuberculosis, you must take antibiotics for at least six to nine months. Your age, overall health, drug resistance, and the location of the infection in your body all influence the drugs used and the duration of the treatment. A few weeks after the start of your tuberculosis treatment, you won’t be contagious, and you could feel better. Don’t stop taking your tuberculosis medications; you must finish the entire course of therapy and take the medication precisely as your doctor prescribes. Stopping therapy too soon or skipping doses might cause germs to grow resistant to the medications, resulting in tuberculosis that is far more serious and difficult to cure.
Tuberculosis is a painful disease to live with, but the good news is that it is curable. Thus it’s even more important to treat it at the correct time because delayed treatment means forbidden treatment. Every breath you take is worth a million-dollar grin from your family or loved ones, so keep tuberculosis at bay and adopt a healthy living.
(The author is a consultant microbiologist.)