What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is an airborne disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is usually spread when an infected person coughs, spits or sneezes.

According to statistics, about a quarter of the world’s population has been infected with this bacteria. However, it is of relief to note that this does not mean that these quarter million people are now sick, though they do need medical assistance. Why you may ask. Studies have shown that there are two stages of tuberculosis. The first stage is called LATENT TUBERCULOSIS while the second stage is called ACTIVE TUBERCULOSIS.

In latent tuberculosis, a person has been infected with the bacteria but due to suppression by the immune system, the bacteria is not yet active, though it may become active over time. In this case, tuberculosis cannot yet be spread from one person to another. However, once tuberculosis becomes active – usually due to a weakened immune system, the disease becomes contagious. Active tuberculosis commonly affects the lungs. In this case, it is called pulmonary tuberculosis. Once it begins to affect other organs in the body like the spine, kidney or brain, it is referred to as extrapulmonary tuberculosis.

One of the major causes of tuberculosis is HIV/AIDS. Statistics show that tuberculosis is more common in people infected with HIV/AIDS. This is because their immune systems have been rendered weak by the virus, thereby, making it unable for the body to defend itself against foreign bodies.

Babies and children are also prone to infection due to the undeveloped immune system. Other causes of tuberculosis include geographical factors (place of residence, work, sports, hospitals etc.), use of substances (IV, tobacco, alcohol, etc.), other health complications like meningitis, spinal damage, heart, kidney, liver problems to mention but a few.

Symptoms of tuberculosis may vary based on the level of infection in a patient’s body. Some of the most classic symptoms include:

–    Chronic cough

–    Blood-filled sputum

–    Fever

–    Weight loss

–    Night sweat

–    Chills

–    Tiredness

–    Loss of appetite

–    Chest pain and many others.

There are different ways of diagnosing a patient to confirm the presence of tuberculosis in the patient’s body. Some of these methods usually involve the use of x-rays, microscopic exams, acculturation of body fluids among others.

Tuberculosis can be treated with antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision, and support to the patient by a health worker. Without supervision, it may be difficult to adhere to the treatment, leaving room for the disease to spread. Strict adherence to the prescription is highly essential for the successful administration of the drug.

If you have been diagnosed to be infected, it would be wise of you to inform those around you so as for them to be wary, to be on the alert in case you undergo any difficulty as a result of the illness and for you to ensure that you stick to the medication prescribed for you by health practitioners. The United Nations aims to have eradicated tuberculosis by the year 2030 through the increase of treatment coverage, as many patients who are in dire need of treatment still have trouble accessing proper healthcare.

Let us join hands together to make the world a healthier place to live in by eradicating tuberculosis.

Sources: Wikipedia, WebMD, MayoClinic, W.H.O.