Tuberculosis

Lane Burnette

What is it? How is it caused?

According to Medilexicon`s medical dictionary, tuberculosis is "A specific disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the tubercle bacillus, which can affect almost any tissue or organ of the body, the most common site of the disease being the lungs."


Not only does it affect the lungs, but it can also affect the central nervous system, the lymphatic system, and the circulatory system.

The bacteria causing the tuberculosis builds up in the lungs and causes pneumonia. This will cause chest pain, coughing up blood, and a prolonged cough. Your lymph nodes will begin to enlarge as well. Your body's immune system fights back by forming scar tissue or fibrosis around the TB bacteria. This helps prevent the bacteria from spreading through your body and/or to other people. If your immune system is weak, the TB bacteria will break through the scar tissue and continue its way through your body. If this happens it can go on to damage your kidneys, bones, and the meninges that surround your brain and spinal cord.


Two Types:


  1. Latent TB- The bacteria is present but inactive, it shows no symptoms. It is not contagious.
  2. Active TB- Makes you sick, shows symptoms, and is contagious.


Other symptoms of TB include:


  • unexplained weight loss
  • tiredness
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • fever
  • night sweats
  • chills
  • loss of breath
  • However, most people do not show symptoms!

Diagnosis

There is a combination of test taken to diagnose TB, they include: skin, blood, and imaging test.


  • The most common is a skin test called the Mantoux Test. This test takes a small amount of PPD (purified protein derivative) tuberculin that is injected into the forearm and after 48-72 hours it is looked at again. The doctor or nurse is looking for a hard, raised bump at the site of the injection. If they find this, you usually are tested positive for TB.
  • A blood test can also show if it is active or latent.
  • Microscopic sputum analyses or cultures can find TB bacteria in the sputum.

Who is affected?

Anyone can become infected by being around another person who may have the disease. If the infected person happens to cough, sneeze, or spit, that bacteria can enter into the air and come into contact with you as you breath it in.



People with a high risk:

  • Those who live with others who have active TB infections
  • Poor or homeless people
  • Foreign-born people who come from countries with endemic TB
  • Older people, nursing home residents, and prison inmates
  • Alcoholics and intravenous drug users
  • Those who suffer from malnutrition
  • Diabetics, cancer patients, and those with HIV/AIDS or other immune system problems
  • Health-care workers
  • Workers in refugee camps or shelters

Treatment/Prevention

Treatment:



If TB is inactive then you are given an antibiotic called isoniazid(INH). It is prescribed for six to twelve months.


If TB is active you are also given a form of INH such as rifampin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide.


Prevention:


You can receive a vaccine called BCG. It is used in several parts of the world and protect children and infants. Maintain a healthy diet, and get regular TB test if you live in high risk areas, and taking your TB medication.

TB can be Cured