Tuberculosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Medpho Team May 1, 2023

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The lungs are generally affected by tuberculosis, and however, it can have an impact on other parts of the body. The joints, kidneys, spine, and brain could all be affected.

This blog contains all the information about Tuberculosis (TB).

What is Tuberculosis?

The bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes TB, and it most commonly affects the lungs. TB is spread through the air when persons with lung TB cough, sneeze, or spit. An individual needs to inhale only a few bacteria to become infected.

Tuberculosis (TB) affects 10 million people each year. TB kills 1.5 million people per year, despite being a preventable and curable disease. It is the world's leading infectious killer.

Tuberculosis (TB) is the main cause of death among HIV-positive patients and a significant contributor to antibiotic resistance.

The majority of persons who suffer from tuberculosis live in low- and middle-income countries; however, About half of all persons with tuberculosis can be found in 8 countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa. 

TB bacteria infect about one-quarter of the world's population. Only 5-15% of these people will fall ill with active TB disease. The rest have TB infections but are not sick and cannot spread the disease. Both tuberculosis illness and disease are treatable using antibiotics.

What Are Causes of Tuberculosis (TB)?

What Are Causes of Tuberculosis (TB)?

Tuberculosis is transmitted from person to person by droplets. When someone with tuberculosis coughs, sneezes, or talks, tiny droplets of saliva or mucus are discharged into the air, where they can be consumed by someone else.

TB (tuberculosis) bacteria is transmitted only through the air. You can't get TB by:

  • Putting your hand in someone's or shaking someone's hand
  • Sharing food or beverages
  • Sharing toothbrushes
  • Getting infected by touching something contaminated by an infected person

The bacteria settle in your lungs and increase once you breathe them in. Bacteria can transmit from the lungs to other body parts, and the kidneys, spine, and brain could all be affected.

You are contagious if you have an active illness in your lungs or throat. This means you can potentially infect others, and you normally can't spread the sickness if it's in other regions of your body rather than your lungs or throat.

It's not easy to get TB. Usually, you have to be in close proximity to someone who has active tuberculosis, and you need to be around them for a long time. TB tends to be transferred between family members, friends, and people who live or work together.

Tuberculosis is difficult to contract. You must usually be close to someone who has active tuberculosis, and you must spend a significant amount of time in their company. Family members, friends, and people who live or work together are the most likely to contract tuberculosis.

What Are Symptoms of Tuberculosis?

What Are Symptoms of Tuberculosis?

A person with latent or inactive tuberculosis will show no signs or symptoms. Although you may still have a tuberculosis infection, the bacteria in your body is not causing you any harm.

Symptoms of Active Tuberculosis (TB) include:

A cough lasts longer than three weeks.

  • Unintentional weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Poor growth in children
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain

As a result of the impaired organ or system's function, other symptoms may develop. Sputum (blood or mucus) coughing is a symptom of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). Bacteria may have penetrated your bones, resulting in bone discomfort.

Many other diseases can induce these symptoms, so it is important to contact a healthcare professional and to let them find out if you have TB. Get a TB test if you think you have been exposed to TB.

How is TB Diagnosed?

Your doctor will begin by taking a medical history to see if you have been exposed. During a physical exam, they will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope and look for enlargement in the lymph nodes in your neck.

If your doctor suspects tuberculosis, they may recommend a skin or blood test.

A little amount of tuberculin fluid is injected i.nto the skin of the arm for the skin test. You will be advised to return to the office within 48 to 72 hours to have a healthcare worker examine your arm for a lump or induration (thickening of the skin). It may be challenging to feel, so a trained healthcare professional should assess the situation. The healthcare worker would measure the bump or induration and inform you if you had a positive or negative reaction to the test. If it's positive, you've most likely been infected with the tuberculosis pathogen. It doesn't tell you if you have clinically active tuberculosis. The skin test is not 100% accurate, meaning you may have a false-positive or a false-negative, so your doctor may recommend further testing.

The TB blood test assesses your immune system's response to the bacteria that cause tuberculosis. This information will be utilized to confirm or rule out latent or active tuberculosis with greater precision, and it simply necessitates one office visit.

Treatment for Tuberculosis 

Antibiotics are used to treat tuberculosis. Many factors will influence which medicine(s) your doctor prescribes. These include your age, health, whether your tuberculosis is active or latent, and whether your TB is drug-resistant. This means that some medicines won't work on it. Most common medicines used to treat tuberculosis include Isoniazid, Rifampin, Ethambutol, and Pyrazinamide.

Antibiotics are used to treat tuberculosis. Many factors will influence which medicine(s) your doctor prescribes.

You must take your tuberculosis medicine(s) for 6 to 9 months. Your healthcare provider will tell you how to take your medicine, when to take it, and how long. It is important that take your healthcare provider's advice. Every day, take your medicine at the same time. Don't forget to take your medicine or skip doses. This could make treating your tuberculosis more difficult.

If you have tuberculosis but don't have active TB, you can take medication to prevent the disease from progressing. Preventive therapy is what it's called. You won't get tuberculosis if you follow your doctor's recommendations precisely.