Easy guide to understanding tuberculosis
Caused by a bacterium, mycobacterium tuberculosis, TB is an infectious disease that predominantly affects the lungs, though it can affect other parts of the body as well. In most cases, the patient does not show any symptoms, this is because not everyone who has been infected with the bacteria becomes sick. In such cases, the patient is said to have latent tuberculosis. In case the patient is experiencing the symptoms, the condition is referred to as TB disease, which, unfortunately, can be quite fatal.
Tuberculosis is not as contagious as cold or flu, however, it spreads just like these two. When a person with active TB diseases sneezes or coughs, he/she expels infected droplets containing the bacteria. These droplets, if inhaled by any other person, who is nearby, can infect him/her as well. As per the best TB doctor in Kolkata, this does not happen instantly and one may have to spend a couple of hours in contact with the infected person to contract the infection.
So, TB infection very commonly spreads between family members as they live in close proximity, within the same house.
Difference between latent and active TB
The immune system of healthy people is strong enough to fight and destroy the bacteria that cause tuberculosis. In such cases, the patient does not experience any major symptom and the person is said to have latent tuberculosis. In other cases, the infected person may start experiencing the symptoms within weeks or months of being infected. This is commonly referred to as active tuberculosis. Experts from the best hospital for TB treatment in Kolkata suggest that around 10% of people with latent TB are likely to develop active TB within a couple of years. This usually happens when the immune system of the patients suffering from latent TB is compromised.
What puts you at a higher risk of getting tuberculosis?
Although anyone can be infected with tuberculosis, there are certain factors that could put you at greater risk. We have listed some of these with the help of the best lungs specialist in Kolkata.
- Being and long term contact with a person who has been infected with tuberculosis
- Living or working in a congested/crowded area.
- Having an underlying medical condition that weakens the immune system
- Undergoing treatments that can weaken the immune system and make it more prone to infection
- Big very old or young, as your immune system tends to be weaker
- Living in unhygienic conditions
- Lack of proper and nutritious diet
- Lifestyle problems that include substance abuse and excessive alcohol consumption
What can you do to prevent the spread of infection?
It is pertinent to note that a person diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis will be contagious for almost 2 to 3 weeks following the start of the treatment. Though you may not be required to stay in isolation, it is always a better idea to take all the basic precautions to protect your family and friends.
- You need to avoid going to work/college/school, and other crowded places to make sure that you do not come in close contact with anyone else
- You should make it a habit of covering your mouth with disposable tissue on your elbow while coughing, sneezing or even laughing.
- Make sure you dispose of all your used tissues properly and wash your handkerchiefs thoroughly
- Keep your room well ventilated and make sure you do not miss out on your daily dose of fresh air in the morning
- If possible, isolate yourself at home and sleep in a separate room.
Watch out for the symptoms and seek immediate medical intervention. TB is curable, all you need to do is be vigilant.