বক্ষস্থলে টিবির লক্ষণ

টিবি হল টিউবরকোলোসিসের(যক্ষ্মার) সংক্ষিপ্ত রূপ যা সংক্রামক, বায়ুবাহিত রোগ যা ফুসফুসকে প্রভাবিত করে, মস্তিষ্ক এবং মেরুদণ্ডের মতো শরীরের অন্যান্য অঙ্গগুলিতেও ছড়িয়ে যেতে পারে। যক্ষ্মায় (টিউবরকোলোসিসে) দেহের টিস্যুগুলির ধ্বংস হওয়ার সম্ভাবনা রয়েছে এবং এটি মাইকোব্যাক্টেরিয়াম টিউবরকোলোসিস নামে পরিচিত ব্যাকটিরিয়ার দ্বারা ছড়িয়ে পড়ে। টিউবরকোলোসিস বা যক্ষা সংক্রামক এবং কাশি, হাঁচি, হাসি ইত্যাদির মাধ্যমে, যা বাতাসে ছোট ছোট ফোঁটা ছেড়ে দেয়, একজনের থেকে অন্য মানুষের মধ্যে ছড়িয়ে যেতে পারে; তবে দীর্ঘ সময়ের জন্য যদি কোনো সংক্রামিত ব্যক্তির সাথে খুব ঘনিষ্ঠ যোগাযোগ না রাখা হয় তাহলে যক্ষ্মায় আক্রান্ত হওয়া অতটা সহজ নয়। এবং তাই, যক্ষ্মা পরিবারের সদস্য, ঘনিষ্ঠ বন্ধু, সহকর্মী বা অন্য কোনও ব্যক্তি যার সাথে দীর্ঘকাল ধরে বন্ধ জায়গায় স্থায়ীভাবে থাকার ফলে ভাইরাসটি একে অপরের থেকে অন্যের কাছে সংক্রামিত হতে সক্ষম হয়।   

যক্ষ্মা মূলত দুই প্রকার, যেমনটি নীচে উল্লেখিত:

(লেটেন্ট টেউবরকোলোসিস)প্রচ্ছন্ন যক্ষ্মা: যক্ষ্মার এই প্রকারে রোগের ছড়িয়ে পড়ার শৈলী সুপ্ত আকারে হয়, যেখানে ভাইরাসটি যে ব্যক্তির শরীরে উপস্থিত থাকে সেই শরীরের ভাইরাস বৃদ্ধির প্রতিরোধ ব্যবস্থার দ্বারা সীমাবদ্ধ থাকে। এটি সুস্বাস্থ্য বজায় রাখতে সহায়তা করে এবং সংক্রমণ ছড়িয়ে যাওয়ার ঝুঁকিও হ্রাস করে। তবে যদি কোনও কারণে ভাইরাসজনিত প্রতিরোধ ব্যবস্থা আপোষিত হয়, তাহলে ব্যক্তির সংক্রমিত ভাইরাস যে কোনও সময় সক্রিয় হতে পারে।

(আ্যকটিভ টিউবরকোলোসিস)সক্রিয় যক্ষ্মা: এটি যক্ষ্মার একটি রূপ যেখানে দেহে উপস্থিত যক্ষ্মার জীবাণুগুলি শরীরটাকে প্রভাবিত করে এবং দ্রুতগতিতে বহুগুণ তৈরি হয়, যা স্বাস্থ্যের উপর ক্ষতিকারক প্রভাব ফেলে। টিবির এই আকারটি সাধারণত সুপ্ত যক্ষ্মার পুনঃসবেশন এবং অত্যন্ত সংক্রামক।

অ্যাক্টিভ যক্ষ্মা একটি খুব মারাত্মক রোগ যা যত্ন সহকারে চিকিত্সা করা প্রয়োজনীয়। প্রাথমিক রোগ নির্ণয় এবং কার্যকর চিকিত্সা এই সমস্যার প্রভাব হ্রাস করতে পারে; অন্যথায় চিকিত্সায় বিলম্বতা রোগীর মৃত্যুর কারণও হতে পারে। সুতরাং, রোগ সনাক্তকরণে এবং সময়মতো চিকিত্সীয় সহায়তা উপলব্ধ করানোর জন্য যক্ষ্মার লক্ষণগুলি সম্পর্কে সচেতন হওয়া খুব প্রয়োজন। এটা ছাড়া, সুপ্ত যক্ষার যেহেতু কোনও লক্ষণ সাধারণত দেখা যায় না, কারণ, শরীরে ভাইরাস সুপ্ত রয়েছে; এটি কেবলমাত্র রক্ত বা ত্বকের পরীক্ষার মাধ্যমে সনাক্ত করা যেতে পারে।

(আ্যকটিভ টিউবরকোলোসিস)সক্রিয় যক্ষ্মার লক্ষণ

সক্রিয় যক্ষ্মার কিছু সাধারণ লক্ষণগুলির নীচের তালিকাটির মধ্যে রয়েছে, তবে এটি বলা বাহুল্য যে লক্ষণগুলি তালিকাটিতে সীমাবদ্ধ নয়:

  • ৩ সপ্তাহ ধরে স্থায়ী ঘন কাশি
  • বক্ষস্থলে তীব্র ব্যথা
  • নিশ্বাস নিতে গিয়ে ব্যথা বা কাশি
  • কাশিতে রক্ত
  • চিরস্থায়ী পরিশ্রান্তি ও ক্লান্তি
  • রাত্রে ঘামা
  • মারাত্মক ঠান্ডা লাগা
  • ধারাবাহিক ভাবে অল্প-স্বল্প জ্বর আসা
  • ক্ষিদে না পাওয়া
  • বিনা কারণে ওজন হ্রাস

যক্ষ্মায় আক্রান্ত ব্যক্তি, সংক্রমণের তীব্রতার উপর নির্ভর করে যে ওপরের লক্ষগুলির কিছু বা সকল লক্ষণই প্রদর্শিত হতে পারে। এছাড়াও, যদি সংক্রমণটি দেহের অন্য কোনও অঙ্গে ছড়িয়ে পড়ে, তার লক্ষণগুলি পৃথক হয় এবং লক্ষণগুলি সংশ্লিষ্ট অঙ্গের উপর নির্ভর করে, যেমন মেরুদণ্ডে যদি যক্ষ্মা ছড়িয়ে পড়ে, তাহলে ব্যক্তি পিঠে তীব্র ব্যথা অনুভব করতে পারে, যদি ব্যক্তির সংক্রমণ কিডনিতে হয়, তাহলে ব্যক্তির প্রস্রাবে রক্ত খুঁজে পাওয়া যেতে পারে। এই লক্ষণগুলি পৃথকভাবে বা উপরের সাধারণ লক্ষণের সাথে একত্রিত হয়েও দেখা দিতে পারে।

যক্ষ্মার সংক্রমণটি খুব ছোঁয়াচে হওয়া সত্ত্বেও, তারা কোনো বস্তু বা স্থানের পৃষ্ঠের উপরে প্রস্ফুটিত হয় না এবং তাই, আক্রান্ত ব্যক্তির সাথে হাত মিলানো বা খাবার ভাগাভাগির মতো সাধারণ ক্রিয়াকলাপের মাধ্যমে ছড়িয়ে পড়ে না। দীর্ঘদিন ধরে আক্রান্ত ব্যক্তির সাথে ঘনিষ্ঠ যোগাযোগ থাকলেই ভাইরাসটি অন্য একজনের কাছে ছড়িয়ে পড়ার সম্ভাবনা থাকে। সেই সূত্রে, লোকজন যাদের এই রোগের ভাইরাসে সংক্রামিত হওয়ার ঝুঁকি বেশি হয়ে দাড়ায়, তারা হলেন:

  • পরিবারেরে সদস্য
  • ঘনিষ্ট বন্ধুগণ
  • সহকর্মীগণ
  • লোকজন যারা যক্ষ্মা আক্রান্ত অঞ্চলে যেমন রাশিয়া, এশিয়া, পূর্ব ইউরোপ, ইত্যাদি জায়গায় ঘুরেছেন
  • লোকজন যারা বহুদিন হাসপাতালে বা নার্সিং হোমে থেকেছেন

এছাড়াও, দুর্বল বা আপোষিত প্রতিরোধ ব্যবস্থার মানুষের এই ভাইরাসে আক্রান্ত হওয়ার ঝুঁকি বেশি দেখা যায়। মানুষজন যাদের প্রতিরোধ ক্ষমতা ক্ষীণ, তারা হলেন:

  • বাচ্চা এবং শিশু – যাদের প্রতিরোধ ক্ষমতা এখনও বিকাশিত হয়নি
  • লোকজন যাদের ডায়বেটিস বা কিডনির সমস্যা দেখা যায়
  • এইচ আই ভি/এড্সের রোগী
  • অঙ্গ প্রতিস্থাপিত হওয়া রোগী
  • ক্যান্সারের রোগী
  • স্ব-প্রতিরোধ ক্ষমতাচ্যুত লোকজন
  • অপুষ্ট বা কম ওজনের মানুষ
  • যারা ক্রমাগত সিগারেট খায়
  • যারা নেশা করে (মদ বা ড্রাগ্স)

বক্ষস্থলে যক্ষ্মার ক্ষেত্রে রোগের লক্ষণ, প্রতীক ও চিকিত্সা বোঝা খুবই গুরুত্বপূর্ণ, কারণ যক্ষ্মা যদি তাড়াতাড়ি সনাক্ত না করা হয় তবে তা মারাত্মক প্রমাণিত হতে পারে। কিন্তু, যদি সঠিক সময়ে নির্ণয় করা হয় এবং উপযুক্ত চিকিত্সা প্রদান করা হয়, তাহলে যক্ষ্মা সম্পূর্ণরূপে নিরাময়যোগ্য। যদি কোনও ব্যক্তি উপরের কোনও লক্ষণগুলি অনুভব করেন তাহলে তার তৎক্ষণাত চিকিৎসকের পরামর্শ নেওয়া উচিত এবং ভাইরাসের উপস্থিতি নির্ধারণের জন্য পরীক্ষা করানো উচিত। বক্ষস্থলে যক্ষ্মার প্রাথমিক পর্যায়ে চিকিৎসা করার জন্য, ডাক্তারেরা নির্দিষ্ট কিছু ওষুধের পরামর্শ দেন যা রোগীদের ধর্মীয়ভাবে গ্রহণ করা প্রয়োজন; যদি সংক্রমণটি ‘ড্রাগ-প্রতিরোধী’ হয় তবে শক্তিশালী ওষুধের সাথে জড়িত একটি আলাদা চিকিৎসা প্রণালী শুরু করার দরকার। একবার চিকিৎসা পেরণালী শেষ হয়ে গেলে, চিকিৎসক একটি ছাড়পত্র সরবরাহ করেন, যাতে জানানো হয় যে সংশ্লিষ্ট ব্যক্তি আর সংক্রামিত নয় এবং ভাইরাসটি অন্য কোনও ব্যক্তির কাছে ছড়িয়ে পড়ার কোনও ঝুঁকি নেই। এই প্রণালীর পরেই কোনও ব্যক্তিকে যক্ষ্মার থেকে সম্পূর্ণ ভাবে নিরাময় এবং নিরাপদ হিসাবে বিবেচনা করা হয়।

যক্ষ্মা রোগটিকে অতীতের কোনও রোগ বলে মনে হতে পারে কিন্তু তা আজও খুব বিদ্যমান এবং তাই কোনও ক্ষতিকারক জটিল প্রভাব এড়ানোর জন্য সময়মতো সংক্রমণ সনাক্ত এবং চিকিত্সা করা যায় তা নিশ্চিত করার জন্য যথাযথ যত্ন এবং সতর্কতা অবলম্বন করতে হবে।

Bone TB Symptoms

TB or Tuberculosis might sound like a thing of the past to many, but it is still very much in existent and has also been claiming lives due to negligence and unawareness. Tuberculosis is amongst the top ten causes of death in India. Tuberculosis or TB is an airborne, contagious disease caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which primarily affects the lungs but has potential to spread to other organs and parts of the body such as bones and joints. When tuberculosis spreads to other organs, it is referred to as extrapulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB). Bone TB is a form of extrapulmonary tuberculosis and mostly affects the spine, long bones and joints; however, it can affect any other bone in the body too. 

Bone tuberculosis is caused when a person is affected with tuberculosis, and the infection spreads outside the lungs to other organs of the body such as the bones. Tuberculosis is an airborne, contagious disease is spread from person-to-person through the air via means of tiny droplets of cough, sneeze, laugh, etc. That said, tuberculosis is not that easily transferrable until a person spends a lot of time in close proximity to the affected person. Tuberculosis destroys the body tissue, and once a person contracts tuberculosis in the lungs, it spread through blood from the lungs into the bones, joints and spine. Bone tuberculosis is essentially caused to excessive vascular supply in the centre of the long bones and the vertebrae. 

Bone tuberculosis is rare, but over recent years due to the spread of AIDS in developing countries, this form of tuberculosis has gained momentum. Bone tuberculosis is complicated to diagnose and can cause severe problems, if not treated within time. Bone tuberculosis becomes even more difficult to diagnose because it does not often cause any symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage; moreover, bone TB is particularly painless in its early stages. In most people, the time when the bone TB is diagnosed, the stage of tuberculosis has already advanced quite further. 

However, some symptoms that can help with diagnosis are:

  • Intense and consistent back pain
  • Swelling in joints
  • Stiffness in back and joints
  • Abscesses

These symptoms are produced when the stage of bone tuberculosis has not advanced too much; however, cases where the bones tuberculosis has grown too much, dangerous symptoms such as below can occur:

  • Neurological problems
  • Paralysis
  • Shortening of limb in children
  • Deformities in bones

It is also important to know that a person suffering from bone tuberculosis may or may not experience typical tuberculosis symptoms, such as:

  • A dense cough lasting more than three weeks
  • Acute chest pain
  • Pain in breathing or coughing
  • Blood in cough
  • Constant fatigue and extreme tiredness
  • Night sweats
  • Severe chills
  • Consistent fever especially low-grade
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss

These symptoms may or may not accompany bone tuberculosis symptoms. While tuberculosis is communicable, it is possible to be infected with tuberculosis only if a person is in close contact with the infected person for a prolonged period. It is not possible to be infected with tuberculosis by simple shaking of hand or sharing of food. Some people who are at more risk of being infected with tuberculosis are:

  • Family of the infected person
  • Close friends of the infected person
  • Co-workers of the infected person
  • People who have travelled to Russia, Asia and Eastern Europe
  • People who live in a hospital or a nursing home

Moreover, people with a weak immune system are in more danger of being infected with bone tuberculosis; these include:

  • Babies and young children – with developing immune systems
  • People who have diabetes or kidney disease
  • HIV/ AIDS patient
  • Organ transplant patients
  • Cancer patients 
  • People with auto-immune disorders
  • Malnourished or underweight people
  • Chain smokers
  • Substance users (alcohol and drugs)

It is very critical to understand what puts some people at more risk than others and how to identify bone tuberculosis symptoms so that adequate medical help can be obtained timely. If bone tuberculosis is not diagnosed and treated timely, it can cause severe complications and can also lead to death in some cases.

The damage caused by bone tuberculosis is irreversible unless it is detected and treated early on with the right medications. In some cases, patients might have to undergo spinal surgeries such as laminectomy, in which a part of the vertebrae is removed to treat the patient. However, medications are the first form of treatment, and the duration of treatment of bone tuberculosis can last for as long as 18 months. Along with treatment, the patient will also be asked to make many lifestyle changes and modify habits. A person being treated for bone tuberculosis will be asked to refrain from alcohol consumption, use of tobacco products, caffeine, refined products, greasy food, etc. The treatment will also be focused on fibre and protein-rich diet, as well as green leafy vegetables that would provide iron and necessary nutrients to the body. 

With more than a million cases of tuberculosis in India, reported every year, it is critical to understand the symptoms and get the right treatment so that it does not spread outside the lungs and affects bones and joints, making it more intense and difficult to treat.

Symptoms of Tuberculosis in Throat

Tuberculosis or TB is a disease caused by a type of bacteria, called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which spread from person-to-person through air; this bacterium is released into the air when a person infected with TB coughs, sneezes, laughs, etc. However, it is not easy to be infected with tuberculosis easily; one needs to be in close proximity with the infected person for a prolonged period of time. It cannot spread from person-to-person by simple shaking of hands, sharing of food, etc. Thus, people more prone to being infected with tuberculosis are generally the family members, close friends, co-workers, etc.

Tuberculosis primarily affects the lungs or throat, though it has the potential to spread to other organs in the body such as the bones and joints. In fact, tuberculosis in the throat and lungs is the only form of tuberculosis which has the potential to spread to other organs; this is called pulmonary tuberculosis. In any form, if tuberculosis is left untreated, it can become life-threatening in fact even a delay in treatment can cause severe health issues. That said, it is easily curable provided it is diagnosed early and proper medical attention is received. Also, the aggressiveness of tuberculosis also depends on its type; in many cases people might have a latent form of tuberculosis which remains inactive and does not cause any harm. In other cases, active form of tuberculosis can prove fatal if not treated. Also, latent TB can become active if the immune system of the patient is compromised due to any reason.

People who have weak immune system include, but are not limited to:

  • Babies and young children – with developing immune systems
  • People who have diabetes or kidney disease
  • HIV/ AIDS patient
  • Organ transplant patients
  • Cancer patients
  • People with auto-immune disorders
  • Malnourished or underweight people
  • Chain smokers
  • Substance users (alcohol and drugs)

Symptoms of Tuberculosis in Throat

The TB bacteria primarily affect the lungs and the throat, before spreading to any other body organ. In case of latent TB, the person does not experience any symptoms unless the infection becomes active. It can only be diagnosed via blood and skin tests. On the other hand, active TB produces symptoms which are easy to identify. Some of these symptoms include:

  • A dense cough lasting more than 3 weeks
  • Acute chest pain
  • Pain in breathing or coughing
  • Blood in cough
  • Constant fatigue and extreme tiredness
  • Night sweats
  • Severe chills
  • Consistent fever especially low-grade
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss

A person suffering from tuberculosis might have some or all of these symptoms depending on the severity and growth of infection in the body. Also, the symptoms tend to vary as the bacteria starts to impact other body organs. These symptoms depend on the concerned organ such as if a person has tuberculosis which has spread to the spinal cord, he/she will experience sever backache, etc. and in cases, where the TB has affected the kidneys of a person, there will be symptoms such as blood in urine. These symptoms can occur in combination with other general TB symptoms or individually.

Spreading of Tuberculosis in Throat

Tuberculosis is contagious but it does thrive on surfaces and hence, cannot affect the other person through simple activities such as shaking hands, sharing food, etc. The infection only spread to another person if the infected person is in close contact for a long period of time. Some people who are more prone to being infected due to proximity include:

  • Family
  • Close friends
  • Co-workers
  • People who have travelled to TB infected areas such as Russia, Asia, Eastern Europe, Asia, etc.
  • People who live in a hospital or a nursing home.

Also, people with a weakened or compromised immune system are more prone to being infected with the virus.

Diagnoses of Tuberculosis in Throat

Symptoms of tuberculosis help to diagnose the disease which is further evaluated or confirmed by two specific tests. These include:

Skin Test: Also known as Mantoux tuberculin skin test, this test involves injecting a specific fluid into the skin of the lower arm of the patient and analysed for any swelling post 2-3 days. In case of swelling, the result is positive and there can be presence of TB bacteria in the body.

Blood Test: These are specific blood tests called nterferon-gamma release assays or IGRAs,which determine the presence of TB by mixing TB protein with some blood.

In case, any of the tests result positive, they are further confirmed through a CT scan or an X-Ray of chest or throat to detect any changes in lungs and the presence of TB bacteria.

Treatment and Prevention of Tuberculosis in Throat

Tuberculosis of any form including the throat can be prevented by taking vaccinations such as BCG vaccine to prevent the infection from entering the body. For people that have latent TB infection, it is important to get attentive medical care and take all medications to remove the bacteria and prevent it from becoming active.

Moreover, in cases where a person has active TB, it is important they get their medications which will last 6-12 months. Also, it is important to limit or restrict all contact with other people. Follow simple precautionary steps such as covering the mouth while yawning, sneezing, coughing, laughing, etc.

In case of people who are travelling to places that have a common presence of TB, it is important to get preventive vaccinations and avoid spending time in crowded places.

Tuberculosis of the throat is easily preventable and treatable provided proper medical care is received. In case, active TB cases are ignored and no medication is received for treatment, the patient can succumb to the infection.

Things to avoid if you have bone TB symptoms

While tuberculosis (TB) might sound like a word of the past, it is still very much in existence even today and that too in large numbers in India. It is among the top ten causes of death in the world. It is a contagious, airborne disease that can affect any organ of the body such as lungs and spine. Tuberculosis destroys the body tissue and is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis andspreads from one person to another via tiny droplets of cough, sneeze, laugh released into the air. However, TB is not that easily transferrable unless a person spends a lot of time close to the patient infected with tuberculosis. Out of the several forms of TB, one major form is bone tuberculosis. 

Bone tuberculosis affects the spine, the long bones, as well as the joints; most cases of bone tuberculosis are related to the spine column. However, bone TB can affect any bone of the body. It is caused when tuberculosis that primarily affects the lungs spreads to other parts of the body, travelling through the blood from the lungs or lymph nodes. Bone TB essentially starts when there is a lot of vascular supply in the middle of long bones and the vertebrae. Though uncommon, bone TB is rising due to widespread AIDS in India and other developing nations.

Even with advancements in the medical field, it is very difficult to diagnose bone tb since its symptoms are rare and difficult to detect. In most cases, bone TB is detected usually when the stages have progressed beyond a safe control. In many cases, bone TB might not show any symptoms until the very last stages. That said, some patients might not be aware of the presence of TB in the body at all and might detect TB and bone tb when it is too late.

However, some of the common symptoms of bone TB that must be looked out for include:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Painful swelling
  • Stiffness in joints
  • Abscesses

In further advanced cases of bone TB, symptoms might show up as:

  • Neurological disorders
  • Paralysis
  • Limb-shortening
  • Deformities in bone structures

Even though difficult to detect without medical intervention, damage caused by bone TB is usually reversible if it is treated on time and with the right medications. Treatment for bone TB could last long approximately up to 18 months or more. Surgery might be the best solution for advanced cases of bone tuberculosis where the doctors might remove a part of the affected vertebrae.

In other cases, where bone TB is detected in time, treatment would also involve avoiding certain things such as:

Excessive consumption of alcohol: Alcohol is closely linked with bone tuberculosis since it raises the level of ethanol which in turn leads to higher mycobacterium burden, impaired granuloma formation. Alcohol also reduced the response of the patient towards the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine, which is primarily given to prevent tuberculosis. Hence, a person suffering from bone TB must avoid alcohol consumption at all costs.

Tobacco: Tobacco in any form should be strictly avoided by a person detected with bone tb symptoms. Tobacco increases the risk of contracting tuberculosis, triggering the active tuberculosis form, and shoots up chances of recurrence of tuberculosis. More so, it also negatively affects the treatment and medications of tuberculosis, which in turn increases the risk of relapse.

Caffeine: All drinks containing caffeine such as carbonated drinks, coffee, etc. should not be consumed by a person displaying symptoms of bone tuberculosis. Caffeine is s stimulant and increases the bacterial action, hence intensifying the condition.

Refined products: Refined items such as sugar, bread, white rice, sweetened drinks, puddings, refined cereals, should be restricted from the diet of a person suffering from tuberculosis since these are known to contain properties that trigger bacterial action in people infected with tuberculosis.

Greasy food: Food items such as fried beef, chicken, chips, onion rings, and other fried items or foods that are high on saturated fat – should be avoided if a person has bone tuberculosis. These greasy foods raise the level of cholesterol, which in turn shoots up the risk for diabetes and heart problems that leads to a weakened immune system. A weak immune system acts as a breeding ground for tuberculosis bacteria. Further such foods intensify symptoms of bone tuberculosis.

Moreover, as precautionary and preventive measures, a person suffering from bone tuberculosis or any other form of tuberculosis must focus on a nutritional rich diet including fibre, protein, green leafy vegetable, etc. which are rich in iron and vitamin B. Apart from this, consumption of whole grains, antioxidant-rich vegetables, and unsaturated fat should be increases.

With approximately more than a million cases of TB in India each year, it is important for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of TB to ensure they can get the needed medical help and ensure their safety and of the others.

What are the symptoms of TB in the chest?

Tuberculosis or more popularly known as TB is a contagious, airborne disease that primarily affects the lungs; however, it can spread to other organs of the body such as the brain and spine – destroying the body tissue. Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis andspreads from one person to another via tiny droplets of cough, laugh or sneeze released into the air. That said, it is not so easy to get infected with the TB virus. A person needs to be close to the person having the TB disease for a long period of time to be infected with the disease. It can easily spread amongst family members, close friends, co-workers, or anyone if the engagement lasts longer in a closed space. Having said that, some patients suffering from tuberculosis might not feel sick because the disease is primarily of two forms:

  • Latent TB: In this form of tuberculosis, the germs are present in the body of the person, but the immune system restricts their growth, thereby ensuring sound health without any TB symptoms or risk of spreading the infection. However, the infection stays inside the body and can become active if the immune system is compromised due to many causes.
  • Active TB: This is the severe form of latent TB, where the germs affect the body and also multiply to make you sick. This TB is also contagious and is mostly the result of reactivation of latent TB.

TB in the active form is a serious infectious disease, which can be cured with early diagnosis and treatment. Any delay in treatment can lead to the death of the patient. Hence, it is very critical to know the symptoms of TB so that one can be aware and know when to seek medical help.

For latent TB since there are no symptoms, it is advisable to get a blood or skin test to know if you have the infection.

For active TB, one must be cautious and lookout for some of these general symptoms, such as:

  • A dense cough lasting more than 3 weeks
  • Acute chest pain
  • Pain in breathing or coughing
  • Blood in cough
  • Constant fatigue and extreme tiredness
  • Night sweats
  • Severe chills
  • Consistent fever especially low-grade
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss

These are general symptoms and a person infected with TB may display some or all of the symptoms. However, if the infection spreads to other organs of the body, the symptoms will differ and will depend on the infected organ such as – if the TB spread to spine and infects it, a person might experience acute back pain, whereas if the TB spread to the kidneys, the person will have blood in urine. 

While TB is highly contagious, it does not thrive on surfaces and cannot spread by shaking hands with an infected person or sharing food. Moreover, a person needs to be near the infected for a long period of time to contact the virus. In that regard, people who are at most risk to contract the infection are:

  • Friends
  • Co-worker
  • Family
  • People who have travelled to TB infected areas such as Russia, Asia, Eastern Europe, Asia, etc.
  • People who live in a hospital or a nursing home.

Apart from these, it is most likely that people with a weak immune system are more prone to be contacted with the infection. These could include:

  • Babies and young children – with developing immune systems
  • People who have diabetes or kidney disease
  • HIV/ AIDS patient
  • Organ transplant patients
  • Cancer patients 
  • People with auto-immune disorders
  • Malnourished or underweight people
  • Chain smokers
  • Substance users (alcohol and drugs)

For many people, tuberculosis may sound like a disease of the past, but the infection is still claiming a lot of lives in India. So, it is important to know how to prevent and treat the condition.

To minimize the chances of getting infected with TB it is best to get the bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccinations. However, if you have latent TB, one must get proper medical treatment to remove the infection, even if there are no symptoms. TB medications or preventive therapy last for a long period of time – approximately 6-12 months. Further, it is also important to not spread the infection further to more people. Some of the steps that can help are:

  • Avoid public transportation
  • Stay indoors and stay away from people
  • Take all medication properly
  • Cover your mouth while coughing, sneezing, and talking
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Wear a mask
  • Ventilate the room

While it is important to know the signs, symptoms and preventive measures for TB, it is also critical to understand how you can cure these symptoms and be TB free. If detected on time and given proper medical attention, TB is almost completely curable. When you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult your doctor and get tested. The doctors will prescribe antibiotics which will last for a long duration and would need to taken dedicatedly. More so, in cases where the TB is resistant to certain drugs, the condition (known as ‘drug-resistant’) needs more intense treatment and stronger drugs. Once, through the treatment, approval from the doctor that you are no longer contagious is necessary to ensure you are not spreading the virus to other people. 

With approximately more than a million cases of TB in India each year, it is important for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of TB to ensure they can get the needed medical help and ensure their safety and of the others.

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