Tuberculosis is an infectious ailment that affects the lungs and one of the main cause of death globally. It is important to note that there are 2 forms of tuberculosis:
- Latent – the bacteria remain in the body in an inactive state and does not trigger any symptoms and not contagious, but can become active.
- Active – the bacteria can trigger symptoms and transmitted to others.
Tuberculosis affects all age groups and in different parts of the globe. Nevertheless, the disease typically affects young adults and those living in developing countries.
What causes tuberculosis?
The Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium is responsible for causing tuberculosis. It is spread via the air if an infected individual sneeze, coughs or talks.
Remember that tuberculosis is highly contagious, but not easy to acquire. The chances of acquiring the condition from someone in the household or workplace is higher than a stranger. Most cases of active TB that was given proper treatment for at least 2 weeks are not contagious.
Since antibiotics were used in managing tuberculosis, some strains developed resistance. The multidrug-resistant TB strain arises once an antibiotic fails to eliminate all the bacteria where the remaining established resistance to the antibiotic.
What are the indications?
Even though the latent type is free from symptoms, the indications of active TB include the following:
- Coughing, sometimes with blood or mucus
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Appetite loss
Tuberculosis typically affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. If the condition occurs outside the lungs, the symptoms tends to vary.
In most cases of tuberculosis, they can be cured using the appropriate medication. The exact type and length of antibiotic treatment is based on the age, overall health, possible resistance to drugs, site of infection and if TB is latent or active.
Individuals with the latent type might only require one type of antibiotic where those with the active type often require multiple drugs.
Remember that antibiotics must be taken for an extended time. The standard length for a course of antibiotics is around 6 months. The course of treatment should be completely as instructed even if the symptoms have settled.