Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top ten causes of deaths worldwide, with around one-fourth of the world’s population suffering from it. It is estimated that around 10.4 million people worldwide were afflicted by TB in 2016 and about 1.7 million people succumbed to it.
But the good news is that around 53 million lives were saved through timely diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2016. Although this is a great achievement, more awareness is required if we are to eradicate TB by 2025. In order to achieve this goal, we need to first understand the disease.
How is Tuberculosis (TB) caused?
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that usually affects the lungs, but can also damage brain, spine, and other parts of the body.
TB spreads from one person to another when people infected with lung TB cough and sneeze4, thus releasing the germs in the air. However, a healthy person needs to spend a significant amount of time with an infected person to be afflicted by it. This is why TB usually spreads among family members, co-workers or friends.
Types of TB?
TB is classified into two types:
- Latent TB: About one-third of the world’s population has latent TB. In this form, the bacteria are present in the body but remain inactive and are held in check by the person’s immune system. So there are no symptoms and the disease is not transmissible. However, the bacteria can become active at a later stage and trigger symptoms.
- Active TB: In this form of TB, bacteria are active and symptoms are evident. Active TB can be contagious.
How to know if you have TB
A person with active TB will show the following clinical symptoms of TB:
- Cough that lasts more than three weeks
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Blood in the sputum
- Feeling tired all the time
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes
When TB occurs outside the lungs, signs and symptoms could vary depending on the organs involved.
Can TB be cured?
Yes, TB is a curable and preventable disease. Therefore, early diagnosis and proper treatment are the key measures needed to keep you and your loved ones safe from TB.
There are 2 ways TB can be treated:
Active, drug-susceptible TB is treated with a standard six months’ course of four antimicrobial drugs. The exact drugs and length of treatment would depend on factors such as age and overall health of the patient, possible drug resistance, type of TB, and location of the infection.
In cases of drug-resistant TB, Sputum test is done to test for drug-resistant strains of TB. This helps the doctor in choosing the right medications that are most likely to work for the patient.
If a TB patient does not complete the full course of drugs exactly as prescribed by the doctor, there is a chance of relapse.
Further, if a patient does not take the drugs correctly, the TB bacteria can remain alive and become resistant to those drugs-which is much harder and more expensive to treat!
Consult your doctor to know more about early diagnosis of TB.
Call our national Customer Care at 011 – 39885050 for TB testing.