Tuberculosis (TB) – Is It Life Threatening?
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease, caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is characterized by the growth of nodules (tubercles) in the tissues of the body. This infection usually attacks the lungs, but can spread to the other parts of the body.
Tuberculosis (TB) is an air borne disease .when an infected person releases TB bacteria in the air by the droplets of coughing, sneezing, it spreads in the air and enters another nearby person, when he breathes the infected air.
Tuberculosis (TB) are segregated into two types.
- Active TB
- Latent TB
Active Tuberculosis (ATB)
Active TB shows signs and symptoms of active disease, it is a condition in which body’s immune system is weak enough, to fight off TB bacteria that causes infection and spreads in lungs, kidneys and various parts of body. The bacteria multiplies rapidly and damages the tissues of the body, in fact it can create a hole in the lungs. People with weak immune system have higher chances of getting infected with this disease. Patients who have disease like diabetes, kidney disease, HIV, d and who do drugs are at very high risk for tuberculosis because they have very low immunity to fight the TB bacteria.
Some of the symptoms of Active TB
- Severe cough sometimes with blood
- pain in the chest
- loss of appetite
- night sweats
- difficulty in breathing
- weak muscles
If you are experiencing the symptoms of active TB, the doctor will order for the following test to evaluate the infection to treat it effectively.
- TB skin test- ( to locate the TB bacteria directly)
- Blood Test- ( to diagnose TB)
- Sputum culture test- ( mucus is collected from the lungs and tested to diagnose active TB)
- Rapid sputum Test- (this test is done on a person suspected of TB).
- Chest X-ray- ( To look for the effect of bacteria)
Latent Tuberculosis (LTB)
Latent TB is a state of infection that is not active tuberculosis. In this condition the patient is attacked by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but the bacteria does not become active and does not harm the tissues of the body, because once the bacteria enters the patient’s body, it takes years for latent TB to turn into active TB. LTB patients do not show any symptoms initially, because to show active TB symptoms, the bacteria must become active and become contagious.
But when the doctor diagnoses a person and confirms the presence of bacteria in the latent tuberculosis state and that it is still not converted into active state, the person should become extra cautions and take necessary treatment immediately. But it is possible even after completing treatment for TB, the traces of bacteria might still linger in the body parts.
The diagnosis for LTB is based on the positive result of either tuberculin skin test (TST) or blood (interferon gamma release assay (IGRA) that points to response of person’s immune system to the M. tuberculosis bacteria. But these tests are not accurate, but if it is detected early LTB can be successfully treated. People who are suffering from HIV, or on dialysis, or a drug addict and other illness are at high risk of not respondinal to the treatment.
Dealing with TB
If you get a positive result of Latent TB infection test, do not panic, because it takes long time for Latent TB to develop into an Active TB. And LTB is not contagious, only active TB is contagious.
So you have enough time to prevent latent TB from turning into active TB. With the doctor’s advice take proper treatment and continue the medication till the TB bacteria is destroyed. And try to keep yourself away from other people, stay in proper ventilated room, cover your mouth and try to stay indoor to avoid spreading your disease to others.
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