Part 2: Different Types of Tuberculosis

The Inaccurate Belief

When people hear the word tuberculosis their initial description for it would be: a disease that affects the lungs. This however is not an accurate definition. As there are many different types of tuberculosis just like there are many different types of cancer. Below is a short list of some of the different types of tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis Meningitis

Tuberculosis meningitis is a TB infection of the brain and the spinal cord. The initial symptoms can be irritability and restlessness. Later the patient may develop other symptoms such as a stiff neck, headaches, vomiting, variations in mental behaviour, seizures, or coma.

Gastrointestinal Tuberculosis

Gastrointestinal tuberculosis is TB of the gastrointestinal tract: mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, and the anus. The symptoms are abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, change in bowel habits.

Tuberculosis Lymphadenitis (Scrofula)

Tuberculosis lymphadenitis is TB of the lymph nodes, usually along the neck. The symptoms are the formation of masses along the neck, and if the disease is advanced the mass may burst and form a draining sinus.

Cutaneous Tuberculosis

Cutaneous tuberculosis is TB of the skin or mucous membrane from an external source of mycobacteria. There are several types of cutaneous tuberculosis: Lupus vulgaris, tuberculosis verrucosa cutis and milary tuberculosis.

• Lupus vulgaris is a persistent type of cutaneous TB. The symptoms are small reddish brown lesions that are found on the face, eyelids, around the nose, cheeks, and ears.

• Tuberculosis verrucosa cutis is only contracted through direct skin inoculation when an individual had been previously exposed to mycobacteria. This type of cutaneous TB can last for years. The symptoms are reddish brown wart-like growths on the body, skin lesions on hands, feet, buttocks, elbows and knees. Sometimes pus will seep through the fissures present in the lesions.

• Milary tuberculosis is a cutaneous TB that starts off as a pulmonary TB infection which then travels through the bloodstream. The symptoms are small red spots on the skin (which are sometimes concentrated to the trunk of the body), necrosis of infected areas, and the development of ulcers or abscesses on the skin.

Osteo-articular Tuberculosis

Osteo-articular tuberculosis is TB of the joints: knees, hips, ankles, wrists, shoulders, and elbows. It usually only affects one joint. The symptoms are similar to those experienced by individuals with arthritis and pain or stiffness is only felt in the infected area.

Genitourinary Tuberculosis

Genitourinary tuberculosis is TB that initially begins as a pulmonary TB infection which then travels through the bloodstream to the genitourinary tract. The genitourinary tract includes the urinary tract and the reproductive system. The symptoms are blood present in urine, painful or uncomfortable urination, and experiencing pain on one side of the body between the upper abdomen and back.

Drug-resistant Tuberculosis

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is exactly that. A TB infection that does not respond to the drug treatment used to fight TB infection. This type of TB occurs due to the poor management of TB care or the individual was infected by bacteria that was already drug-resistant. There are two types of drug-resistant tuberculosis: multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis and extensive drug-resistant tuberculosis.

• Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is resistant to no less than two of the first-line of drugs used to fight TB infection.

• Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is resistant to three or more of the second-line of drugs used to fight TB infection. This makes it the worst kind of TB infection as treatment for the TB infection is drastically reduced.

The symptoms for MDR-TB and XDR-TB are similar to the symptoms experienced by individuals suffering with pulmonary TB. These symptoms are weight loss, fever, night sweats, coughing and/or coughing up blood, fatigue, and chest pain.

It is advisable that you seek the attention of a health professional as soon as possible if you have come into contact with an individual infected with TB and are now experiencing any of these symptoms. TB is a curable disease when medication is taken as prescribed by a health care professional.