What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that affects your lungs. In some cases, it can also affect the kidney. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a contagious disease that spreads from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.
TB does not be spread by:
- shaking someone’s hand
- sharing food or drink
- touching bed linens or toilet seats
- sharing toothbrushes
When someone breathes in TB bacteria, it can settle in the lungs and begin to grow. Later on, the bacteria can move through the blood to different parts of the body, like kidney, spine, and brain.
TB in the lungs or throat can be contagious and can be spread to other people. TB in the kidney or spine, is often not infectious.
People can get infected with TB when they spend time with already TB infected persons.
What are the Types of Tuberculosis?
There are two types of TB:
- Latent TB – Latent TB is also known as inactive TB. In this scenario, the TB bacteria is inside your body, but your immune system does not let it affect or spread further. Your bod will not show any symptoms of active TB and you are not contagious. As the bacteria is still in your body, it may become active someday. It is very important for the person suffering from latent TB and it may help to control the spread of TB. It is estimated that approximately 2 billion people have latent TB.
- Active TB – In Active TB cases, the bacteria will mushroom and can sicken you. Your immune system can no longer protect you from this. You become contagious and harmful to the people who come in your contact.
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What are the Symptoms of Tuberculosis?
Symptoms of TB depends upon where the TB bacteria are mushrooming in the body. TB bacteria often boom in the lungs which are called pulmonary TB. Symptoms of TB in the lungs are:
- Cough that lasts for 3 weeks or longer
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood or sputum
Other symptoms of TB are:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss in appetite or no appetite
- Sweating at night
What are the Causes of Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that affects your lungs and, in some cases, other body parts. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a contagious disease which spreads from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.
What are the Risks Factors of Tuberculosis?
Anyone can get infected with TB, but some cases can increase the risk factors of TB. Following are the risk factors:
1. Weakened Immune System
A healthy immune system can fight off with bacteria. But a weaker immune system cannot protect you from TB bacteria. Several diseases including medications can weaken your immune system:
- Kidney disease
- Certain cancers
- Cancer treatment (chemotherapy)
- Drugs preventing rejection of transplanted organs
- Drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis
- Very young or advanced age
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2. Traveling or Living in Certain Areas
People who live in often travel to places that have high TB rates are at higher risk of getting contaminated by TB. These places include:
- Eastern Europe
- Latin America
- Caribbean Islands
3. Poverty and Substance Use
- Lack of medical care.
- Substance use.
- Tobacco use.
4. Where you Work or Live
- Health care work. Regular contact with ill people can increase your chances of exposure to TB bacteria.
- Living or working in a residential care facility. Those living or working in prisons, homeless shelters, hospitals or nursing homes are at a higher risk of getting contaminated by Tuberculosis.
- Living in or emigrating from a country where TB is common. People from a country where TB is common are at high risk of getting infected with Tuberculosis.
- Living with someone infected with TB. Living with a TB patient can increase your risk.
What are the Preventions of Tuberculosis?
To help stop the spread of TB:
- If you have a latent infection, take all of your prescribed medication to stop it from becoming active and contagious.
- If you have active TB, limit your contact with people. Cover your mouth when you laugh, sneeze, or cough. Don’t forget to wear a surgical mask when you’re around other people during your initial weeks of treatment.
- If you’re traveling to a place where TB is common, avoid spending much time in crowded places with sick people.
1. How long does it take to show signs of tuberculosis?
Most people contaminated with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis never develop TB disease. If it develops, it can occur two to three months after infection or years later. The risk of TB disease lessens as time passes.
2. Can TB cure itself?
Tuberculosis can be treated and cured with medicine. But the medicine must be taken as prescribed by your doctor. If you have TB disease, you will need to take several different medicines.
3. How does TB affect the body?
When a person gets active TB disease, it means TB bacteria are mushrooming and affecting the lung(s) or other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, bones, kidney, brain, spine and even the skin.