All you wanted to know about Tuberculosis Symptoms ,Causes and its Treatment

All you wanted to know about Tuberculosis Symptoms ,Causes and its Treatment

20-04-2017   |   Posted By: Chhavi   |   3183 View(s)

Tuberculosis, commonly known as TB is an infectious disease that usually affects the lungs and is the second biggest killer, globally. It is a serious disease which generally affects the lungs, but later, it can spread to the other parts of the body as well. Anyone can get inflicted with this disease, but TB usually affects people who have a weak immune system. Also, it affects mostly young adults and people living in developing countries. Want to know all About  Tuberculosis Symptoms, its causes and Treatment-Read on!

It is scary to know that Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of deaths globally. As per WHO Report of 2017, TB is still among the top 10 causes of death with a death toll of around 1.4 million worldwide.

During 18th and 19th century, TB began to increase in North America and Europe. In 1882, a German microbiologist Robert Koch discovered the microbial causes of TB.

TB Test

After that, many vaccines and drugs were developed by the Doctors that made the medical professionals believe that the disease could be defeated. The belief was so strong that the United Nations, at one point predicted that TB would be eradicated worldwide by 2025.

However, unfortunately, the disease kept haunting the people and began to rise worldwide at such a fast rate that in 1993, the WHO (World Health Organization) declared that TB was a global emergency. Thankfully, after developing many strong control programs and intervention methods, the disease began to decrease after 1993. But, it still remains a concern as it is dangerous and contagious. With proper treatment, the disease can be cured.

An Overview of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a disease which is infectious and affects the lungs. A TB infection does not always mean that the infected person will get sick. Sometimes, the immune system might prevent an infected person from becoming sick. And that is why the Doctors differentiate between two types of TB which are:

Latent TB

As the name says it all, ‘Latent’ means ‘Hidden’. In this kind of TB, the person has the germs in the body, but the body’s immune system stops them from spreading to other body parts. It means that the person does not experience any Tuberculosis Symptoms and the infection cannot be transmitted to others. But, the infection is present in the body which can become active any day.

Active TB

As the name suggests, in the active TB the bacteria causes symptoms which are experienced by the infected person, and it can be contagious. In this TB, the germs get multiplied and make people sick.

It is estimated that about one-third of the world’s population suffers from latent TB. But, there is only a 10% chance that TB will become active. Unfortunately, this risk is much higher in people who have a weak immune system, like people having HIV or people who smoke.

TB is a global disease and can affect all age groups. However, most young adults and people living in developing countries get affected by this disease.

Tuberculosis Symptoms

People with latent TB do not experience any Tuberculosis symptoms. People can get a skin or a blood test is done to find out if they are infected. But, people with an active TB usually experience several Tuberculosis symptoms such as:

-A Cough that lasts more than 3 weeks
-Coughing, with blood or mucus
-Loss of Weight
-Night Sweats
-Loss of Appetite
-Feeling tired all the time
-Chest Pain

As mentioned earlier, TB affects the lungs usually but can affect the other body parts also. When TB hits other body parts, the symptoms vary accordingly. If proper treatment is not taken at the right time, the disease can spread to other body parts through the bloodstream:

-This disease, if infects the bones can cause joint destruction and spinal pain.
-When it affects the brain can lead to meningitis
-If kidneys and liver are infected, it may cause their impairment.
-TB infecting the heart can impair the ability of the heart to pump blood properly, which might result in a fatal condition called Cardiac Tamponade.

Causes of Tuberculosis

TB is caused by a bacteria known as the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis which is spread from one person to another through the air. When an individual who has TB coughs, sneezes, spits, laughs or talks, microscopic droplets that contain the germs are released into the air. When another person breathes in these germs, they get infected.

Although TB is contagious, it is not that easy to catch. The germs grow slowly. People have to spend a lot of time around a person infected with the bacteria. And that is why, there are higher chances of getting TB from a person with whom you spend most of the time, like family members, friends or a colleague.  There are fewer chances of getting this disease from a complete stranger. Also, most people with active TB do not remain contagious after they take appropriate treatment for at least two weeks.

Who is at Risk?

TB risk

TB can affect anyone at any age. But, several factors can increase your chances of getting the disease. These factors include:

1.Weakened Body’s Immune System

If a person has a strong immune system, there are high chances that the body will be able to fight TB bacteria. However, if a person has a weak immune system, then the body will not be able to resist the bacteria causing TB.

That is why one must eat healthily and do exercise daily to strengthen their immune system.

Also, there are certain health conditions than weaken the body’s immune system, such as:

-Kidney Diseases
-Some Kinds of Cancers
-Drugs that are used to cure Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and psoriasis.
-Young age

Exercise for TB

2.Substance Abuse

People who are alcoholic and take drugs are more prone to getting this disease. It is because drugs and alcohol weaken the body’s immune system and makes people more vulnerable to TB.

3.Living in Certain Places

The risk of getting TB is much higher in the places which is overcrowded and has poor ventilation which is why people working or living in immigration centres, prisons or nursing homes are at an increased risk of getting the disease. Also, refugees who live in a crowded area and in unsanitary conditions are at high risk of TB infection.So one needs to take precaution and be vigilant about Tuberculosis Symptoms should they emerge.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Tuberculosis

The Doctor will do a physical examination whereby they use a stethoscope listen to the sounds of lungs carefully and also check for swelling in the lymph nodes and look out for other Tuberculosis Symptoms. The Doctors also take the complete medical history of the patients to assess the individual’s risk of exposure to TB. The commonly used diagnostic tool for TB is a skin test in which a small injection of PPD tuberculin, which is an extract of the TB bacterium, which is injected just below the skin of the inside forearm.

A medical professional then check the arm for swelling at the injection site within 48 to 72 hours. If there is a hard, raised bump; it means that the patient is likely to have a TB infection.

The sad part is that skin test is not 100% accurate and might give incorrect positive and negative readings.

Fortunately, there are some other tests too like Blood Test, Chest X-Rays and sputum tests which help in diagnosing Tuberculosis.TB Gold test is a simple blood test which is done to detect the presence of Mycobacterium, the bacterium which causes TB. This test is offered at various Pathology Labs at an average cost of Rs. 2500 in India.

TB can be cured if it is administered at the right time and proper medication is taken. Also,  it can be cured. The time and length of the treatment depend on many factors including patient’s age, overall health, type of TB i.e. Latent or Active TB and the location of the infection(i.e. the brain, kidneys, lungs).

People with active TB generally require multiple drugs to get cured, whereas those with a latent TB may need only one kind of TB antibiotics. The patients need to take antibiotics for a long time. Generally, TB antibiotics are to be taken for 6 months.

The most common medications used to cure TB include:

-Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)
-Ethambutol (Myambutol)

For the patients having drug-resistant TB, a combination of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones and injectable medications, such as amikacin, kanamycin or capreomycin, are used for 20 to 30 months generally. Certain kinds of TB are developing resistance to these medications as well.

Some new drugs are being looked at as add-on therapy to the current drug-resistant combination treatment, including:


The medications prescribed for TB sometimes can have some side-effects. Although it is quite uncommon, but the side effects may happen, and sometimes they can be quite dangerous.

Some of the potential side effects of TB medications could be:

-Loss of appetite
-Dark Urine

If the patient experiences any side-effects, he or she must consult the Doctor immediately. Also, even if the Tuberculosis Symptoms have gone away, the patients must complete the full course of the treatment.

Sure, tuberculosis is a life-threatening disease. But, it can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Also, one must go for a regular Health Check-Up to screen for diseases. If you experience any Tuberculosis Symptoms , do visit a Doctor and get a TB Gold test done.

How to Prevent Tuberculosis?

1. Avoid Close Contact with People Affected by TB

Prevention is better than cure, and hence one of the best ways to prevent TB is not to come in contact with those inflicted with the disease or stay away from those exhibiting Tuberculosis Symptoms. In case you have to be around TB patients, for example, if you work in a facility where Tuberculosis is being treated, then you must take certain preventive measures to avoid breathing in the TB bacteria. For this, you can wear good-quality gloves and face masks. Also, do not spend too much time with anyone who has an active TB infection and it’s very crucial to avoid spending time with TB patients in warm, rooms. Also, wash your hands with a disinfectant cleanser after getting in contact with a person inflicted with the disease.

TB Test

2. Improve your Immunity

Tuberculosis mostly affects people who have a weak immune system and so one of the most effective ways to prevent Tuberculosis is to build a strong immune system. The best thing to improve immunity is to eat a healthy diet. Make sure your diet contains proteins, fibre, antioxidants and other essential minerals. Antioxidants help in fighting free radicals which in turn keep diseases at bay. So, eat healthy foods which help in boosting immunity to prevent metabolism.

Exercising too helps in strengthening the immune system. Hit the gym to workout under the supervision of a fitness trainer. You can also exercise at home- Do simple cardio exercises such as walking, jogging or indoor cycling. But, exercise is a must to keep your immune system strong.

3. Maintain Good Personal Hygiene

Good hygiene plays an essential role in preventing Tuberculosis. So, the answer to ‘How to prevent Tuberculosis’ is that one should adopt good hygiene practice to prevent this deadly disease. Cover your mouth while coughing, do not spit in public places, wash your hands before eating, drink clean water, wash your hands after coming home- Follow these tips to maintain good hygiene. Also, avoid visiting unhygienic and crowded places and stay away from people with Tuberculosis Symptoms to keep Tuberculosis at bay.

4. Prevent TB with the BCG Vaccination

The BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine is used in several countries to prevent the spread of TB, especially among small children. Thus, it is best to get your kids vaccinated with the BCG vaccine to protect your little ones against TB. This vaccine ensures that antibodies against Mycobacterium tuberculosis are developed, and therefore, the chances of suffering from TB are low.

5. Sleep Well

No matter how much work you have pending, you must get your daily dose of sleep. In today’s world, people have started taking sleep for granted. Little do they know that lack of quality sleep causes innumerable health problems and Tuberculosis is one of them. Not getting enough sleep makes your immune system weak. It is already mentioned before that a weak immune system is one of the risk factors for TB. Also, it is important to sleep on time to keep your immune system strong. It is not healthy to sleep at late hours and then wake up late the next day. One must make it a habit of sleeping early and waking up early to stay healthy and fit. Hence, you must sleep for 7 to 9 hours daily to ward off TB along with other diseases.

Fetal Position

6. Go For a Health Checkup Regularly

‘A stitch in time saves nine.’ A medical checkup allows a person to know his or her health condition. Regular health checkups help detect health problems before they start. Also, they can help find problems at an early stage, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. So, it is best to go for a health checkup on a regular basis to increase your chances of living a healthy life.

7. Eat Healthily

In order to keep TB at bay, one must eat a healthy diet. Your diet should consist of all the elements such as protein, vitamins, carbohydrates and fats. Eat lots of fruits and green veggies to boost your immune system. Avoid eating junk food to keep yourself healthy and fit. So, what is the answer to ‘How to Prevent Cholesterol?’ It is simple- Eat a Diet full of protein, carbs, fats and other essential nutrients.

Healthy Foods

8. Quit Smoking and Drinking

Cigarettes and alcohol ruin our health to a great extent. These two habits affect our immune system and invite a host of disease to attack our body. So, nip in the bud! Quit smoking and drinking to ward off health disease. If you are not able to let go of the habit, take help of a Counselor.

Health Check Up Packages

9. Say ‘No’ to Stress

Stress makes our immune system weak and makes us obese. It is important to beat stress to keep the immune system healthy and prevent Tuberculosis. You can try deep breathing exercises to keep away from stress. Giving time to hobbies, listening to music, surrounding yourself with positive people- these are some of the effective tips to manage stress.

10. Exercise

‘How to Prevent Tuberculosis’ – The answer is exercise. As already mentioned in the article, it is essential to indulge in physical activity to prevent TB. You must exercise for at least 30 minutes a day to keep your body healthy and fit. It would be great if you follow a fitness regimen which is a blend of cardio and resistance activities. But, make sure that you exercise on a daily basis.

Aerobic Exercises

So, these were a few simple tips to prevent Tuberculosis. Follow these tips religiously to ward off TB, and if you experience any Tuberculosis Symptoms do not hesitate to Consult a Doctor.

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