What is tuberculosis (TB)?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (a type of bacteria) that is spread through the air. Lung TB is easily spread from person to person through coughs. It usually occurs in the lungs, but it can spread to other parts of the body.
What is latent TB?
Latent TB means that you have bacteria in your body that could cause active TB, but your body’s defenses (immune system) are keeping it from turning into active TB.You can’t spread it to others but you can develop the disease at some point if you don’t have treatment/your immunity falls.
What are the symptoms of active TB?
People with active TB may:
- Cough lasting more than 2 weeks, sometimes with blood in sputum
- Lose their appetite and lose weight.
- Have night sweats.
- Have a fever, usually low grade with evening rise.
- Have chills.
- Feel tired and weak.
How is it diagnosed?
You may have a suspicious skin or blood test. However, If that test shows that you have TB, you will have an X-ray of your chest. which shows damage to your lungs. The confirmatory and simplest test is examination of your phlegm for TB organisms. This test shows if TB is in your lungs. If it is, you can spread it to others by coughing or even just breathing out.
If you are unable to produce phlegm, your doctor may suggest further imaging techniques such as CT scan and perform Bronchoscopy to obtain samples from inside your lungs.
How is it treated?
TB is completely curable disease. Treatment includes oral medications for a period of 6-8 months. The completion of treatment course is very important to prevent persistence of resistant bacteria and spread of disease to more severe forms. Missing doses or stopping medicine too soon can make you sick again. Then you may have to start treatment over again. And the infection can be harder to treat if you have to start over
The first phase of treatment for active TB lasts 2 months. You take several medicines each day. The next phase of treatment can last 4 to 7 months or longer. During this phase, the number of medicines you take may be reduced. Treatment for TB takes a long time because the bacteria die very slowly. You will likely start to feel better after a few weeks of treatment. But don’t stop your treatment until your doctor says all of the TB bacteria are dead.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems