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Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Tuberculosis

Ankit Kumar | October 10, 2018

Tuberculosis is a very dangerous bacterial infection which has affected about a quarter of the total population on earth and new infections affect 1 percent of the population every year. It is another highly contagious disease which affects the lungs. The average mortality rate of Tuberculosis is 12 to 15 percent. According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, in the year 2016, approximately 1 crore people fell ill due to tuberculosis and about 13 lakhs of them died in 2016. When compared with other deadly infections, tuberculosis is the second biggest human killer worldwide.


Causes of Tuberculosis

The tuberculosis infection is caused by the bacteria known as Mycobacterium. The thing which makes it one of the most dangerous infections is that it is highly contagious.

After this bacteria enters the human body by means of contamination through the air or by means of direct contact, it grows gradually in the part of the body having lots of blood and oxygen. According to statistics, less than ten percent of the people infected with this bacteria develop active Tuberculosis in their lifetime. If left untreated it can prove to be fatal.


Symptoms of Tuberculosis

Latent tuberculosis has no symptom but active tuberculosis has some symptoms which are: 

  • Coughing which lasts for more than 3 weeks with blood in sputum.
  • Chest pain while breathing or coughing.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Loss of Appetite.

Tuberculosis can also affect other important parts of your body, including your kidneys, heart, spine or brain. When Tuberculosis spreads outside the lungs the symptoms vary according to the organs involved.

For example, tuberculosis of the spine is characterised by back pain, and tuberculosis in the kidneys can cause blood in your urine.


Diagnosis of Tuberculosis

For diagnosing tuberculosis, all one needs to do is get a physical examination performed by a doctor.The doctor can listen to the sound of your lungs while you breathe and check for any swelling in the lymph nodes. He can recommend further tests such as: 

  • Blood tests: Blood tests check for the presence of Mycobacterium in the blood of the patient. However, the blood tests cannot identify between latent or active tuberculosis.

  • X-ray of the chest:  X-ray of the chest can show the extent of damage to the lungs.

  • Sputum test: This test is performed on the mucus present in the cough and it can easily reveal the presence of Mycobacterium.


Treatment of Tuberculosis

In most of the countries, Bacillus Calmette Guérin (BCG) vaccine injections are given to children to vaccinate them against the bacteria causing tuberculosis.The new Tuberculosis patients in India now receive an internationally accepted first-line treatment of regimen, especially for new patients. The initial intensive phase should consist of eight weeks of drug prescription.

The drug dosages are given according to the body weight of the patients and are further classified into four weight bands. All the patients receive their daily dose of TB drugs under the DOTS (Directly Observed Therapy Short Term) programme of Indian health department. All the patients are required to consume the medication in front of a DOTS agent who is generally a volunteer from the same community.

Image Source: Flickr, Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons.

Ankit Kumar




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