Understanding Tuberculosis: Symptoms and Causes Explained

Tuberculosis is basically a bacterial infection that is prominently known as TB. It can be deadly if it is not treated in time. TB majorly affects the lungs and can also impact other organs, including your brain. Under this guide, you can learn everything about tuberculosis and its symptoms.

tuberculosis symptoms and causes explained

Tuberculosis Overview

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that can cause infection in the lungs or other tissues. It affects the lungs, but it can also impact other organs like the spine, brain, and kidneys. Not everybody who becomes infected with TB gets sick, but you should be treated if you do get sick. If you’re infected with bacteria but don’t have symptoms, you have inactive tuberculosis, and it might seem like TB has gone away, but it is sleeping inside the body. You have active tuberculosis. If you are infected, you develop symptoms.

Can Tuberculosis Be Cured?

TB was a leading cause of death in the 20th century. But today, most of the cases are cured with antibiotics. Even though it takes a long time, you can deal with it. You must take medications for six to nine months to cure it.

Different Types of Tuberculosis

A TB infection does not mean you will get sick. There are different forms of diseases that you have to deal with.

tuberculosis symptoms and causes
Tuberculosis Symptoms Information Infographic illustration

Latent TB

You would have germs in your body, but your immune system keeps them from spreading. You do not have any symptoms or are not even contagious, but the infection is still alive and can become active one day. If you are at high risk for reinfection, for instance, if you have HIV, you would have had an infection in the past two years, your chest X-ray is unusual, or your immune system is weak, your doctor will give you medications to prevent Active tb.

Active TB

The germs multiply here and can make you sick. You can spread the disease to even others. 90% of active adult cases can come from latent TB infection.

A latent or active TB infection can also be drug-resistant, meaning certain medications do not work against the bacteria. So doctor needs to carefully check tuberculosis treatment before prescribing any medication.

Signs And Symptoms of Tuberculosis

Latent TB has no symptoms, but you have to go through a skin or a blood test if you want to know if you have it. Some of the signs of active TB are mentioned here.

    • A cough that goes beyond three weeks
    • Chest pain
    • Night sweats
    • Feeling tired all the time
    • Chills
    • Loss of appetite
    • Weight loss

Tuberculosis symptoms vary from person to person, so you have to visit a doctor to learn more. If you have any of the above symptoms, you must contact your doctor in time.

Causes Of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis causes are generally unknown, but it is caused by bacteria that spread through the air, like cold or flu. You can get TB only if you come in contact with people who have it.

Risk Factors of Tuberculosis

You will most likely get TB if you have a friend, co-worker, or family member. You live in or have traveled to an area where TB is common, like Russia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean. They’re part of a group where TB is more likely to spread, or you work or live with somebody who has it. It includes homeless people, people who have HIV, people in jail, and people who inject. You can also get tuberculosis if you work or live in a hospital or nursing home. You are a healthcare provider for patients at a high risk of TB. You are also a smoker.

A healthy immune system fights the TB bacteria. Still, you might not be able to fend off active TB disease if you have diabetes, HIV, severe kidney elements, head and neck cancer, cancer treatments like chemotherapy, low body weight, and poor nutrition. Some drugs treat psoriasis or even arthritis.

Babies and young kids also have a high chance of getting arthritis because their immune system is not completely formed.

Tuberculosis Transmission

when somebody with TB sneezes, coughs, or laughs, they release a tiny droplet containing the germs. If you breathe in these germs, you can easily get them. TB is a challenge to catch. You usually have to spend a long time around somebody with a lot of bacteria in their lungs. You’ll most likely catch it from your friends, coworkers, and family.

At the same time, tuberculosis germs do not thrive on surfaces. You cannot get it from shaking hands with somebody who has it or by sharing their food or drink.

Tests and diagnosis

Before giving tuberculosis treatment, the doctor might recommend some tests.

Skin Test

It is also known as the Mantoux tuberculin skin test. Here the expert will inject a small amount of fluid into the skin of your lower arm. After two to three days, they will check for swelling in your arm. If your results are very positive, you probably have active TB bacteria. But you could also get a false positive. If you have gotten the TB vaccine, the test could say that you have TB when you do not. The results can also be falsely negative, saying you do not have TB when you really do. This is possible only when you have a new infection. You might get the test more than once.

Blood Test

The tests measure the response when TB proteins are mixed with a small amount of blood.

Even though the test does not tell if you have an infection that is latent or active, if you get positive skin or blood test, the doctor will learn which type of TB you have with a chest X-ray that looks for changes in the lungs. They might also ask you to go for an acid-fast baculites test for TB bacteria in your sputum which is the mucus that comes when you cough.

You can easily prevent TB by taking the medication on time. You have to limit your contact with other people if you have active TB.

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