Tuberculosis: symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Tuberculosis, popularly known as TB is an airborne disease, caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which affects the lungs. When a person who is infected with TB coughs, sneezes or spits, TB germs sprays into the air and an uninfected person only needs to inhale a few of these air-infested with TB germs to catch the disease. The good news is that TB is both curable and preventable.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. Over 100, 000 cases of Tuberculosis are reported every year in Nigeria alone. Without proper treatment, almost half of all the people with TB will die.
March 24, World Tuberculosis Day is set aside to commemorate the day (in 1882) the bacterium that causes the disease was discovered. At the time, the disease was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. This occurrence opened the way towards diagnosing and curing Tuberculosis disease.
Who is most at risk?
Over 95% of cases and deaths resulting from Tuberculosis are reported in developing countries such as Nigeria. Tuberculosis mostly affects adults. In 2017, one million children below 14 years old had the disease and 230 000 children (including those with HIV associated TB) died from the disease.
Kinds of Tuberculosis
There are two types of tuberculosis infections: latent tuberculosis infections and active tuberculosis infections.
tuberculosis infections are said to be latent when the bacteria are in the body but cause no symptoms and are not contagious. On the other hand, tuberculosis infections are said to be active when the bacteria cause symptoms and can be transmitted to others.
About ¼ of the world’s population has latent TB and has up to a 15% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. People who smoke, or who are malnourished or who have HIV have a much higher risk of falling ill from tuberculosis infections.
Common symptoms of tuberculosis
- Cough with sputum and blood
- Chest pains
- Weakness and weight loss
- Fever and night sweats
When a person develops active TB, the symptoms may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care, and result in the transmission of the bacteria to others. People with active TB can infect 15 other people through close contact over a year.
If you feel any of these symptoms, please go to see a doctor immediately.
Tuberculosis (TB) can be diagnosed by examining samples, for instance, blood under a microscope. More modern techniques include a skin test or a blood test.
Tuberculosis (TB) is treated with a standard 6-month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs provided with supervision and support to the patient by a health worker. Without such support, treatment adherence can be difficult, drug resistance variants developed and the TB disease can spread. The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines are provided and taken properly.
Between 2000 and 2017, an estimated 54 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment.
Speak with your doctor today if you develop any of the symptoms listed above.
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