Everything You Need to Know About Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis, more commonly known as TB, is one of the oldest infectious diseases found in human beings. Historians state that human beings were probably infected by Tuberculosis in the Neolithic Revolution. Evidences of the disease have been found in the skeletal remains of Egyptian mummies which date from 3000 to 2400 BC. It was known as Phthisis, in the earlier times, which means consumption in Greek. It was named as “Tuberculosis” by J.L. Schonlein in 1839.

Mechanism of TB

Tuberculosis is caused by different strains of mycobacteria, especially Mycobactierium Tuberculosis. It is a contagious disease and anybody with active TB can easily become a transmitter of the disease. Since the disease has an approximate of 22% infection rate, being, in the vicinity of a TB patient, merits special measurements to be taken. People with weak immune systems are especially susceptible to TB. This is why Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death worldwide in people who are HIV+. The blood stream is another source through which mycobacteria reaches the various places of infection. The TB Bacterium has the ability to lie dormant inside human beings. Such cases of TB Infection are called Latent TB while the cases, where the bacterium is active and spreading rapidly, are called Active TB. Latent TB is non-contagious. However, Active TB is dangerous both for the infected and those around him.

When mycobacteria reach the pulmonary alveoli, beginning the phase of infection, the immune system of the body attempts to kill them. Macrophages lead these attempts, engulfing the bacteria and temporarily storing them inside phagosomes. However, mycobacteria have acid capsules which protect them from the attacks. Mycobacteria then proceeds to reproduce inside the macrophages, infecting them completely. On being attacked by the other macrophages, the infected macrophages fuse together. The immune system is finally suppressed due to the presence of lymphocytes which surround the infected macrophages.

While the bacterium of TB mostly attacks the lungs, it has also been known to affect the bones, kidneys, lymph nodes, and brain also. Tuberculosis Treatment in its early stages is vital as more than 50% of the untreated cases end in death.

Types & Symptoms

As stated above, TB can infect the lungs, as well as other body parts. When TB occurs in the lungs, it is called Pulmonary Tuberculosis and in case of the other body parts, it is called Extrapulmonary. The major symptoms of TB are chronic cough with blood in the sputum, chills, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite & weight, and fatigue. In some cases, nail clubbing also occurs. Any such symptoms should be followed by a prompt examination at a Tuberculosis Treatment Center.

Treatment

Due to the nature of the symptoms, TB is very difficult to be diagnosed. If any of the above discussed symptoms persist in spite of treatment for common cold or fever, it is highly advisable to go to a Tuberculosis Treatment Center immediately. The nature of treatment depends on whether it is Active or Latent.

Various drugs and combinations of drugs are used to treat TB. Combinations of different drugs are often necessary as TB can infect multiple parts of the body at the same time. Growing drug resistance of various strains of the TB virus is another major reason for the requirement of a combination of drugs.

TB has been one of the most dangerous diseases in the history of mankind. Though modern TB Treatment has brought the situation under control, deaths still occur due to TB. Prevention is truly much better than cure in the case of Tuberculosis. Visit your nearest Tuberculosis Treatment Center to find out the vaccines which are available for the same.