Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It can affect any organ part but most commonly affects lungs or the respiratory system. Tuberculosis is endemic in India and most commonly spreads through air. Even after wide treatment modalities available TB remains one of the largest killers in India, claiming nearly two lives every three minutes. Earlier TB was thought to be a disease predominantly of lower socio economic strata; however, this myth has long gone and can affect person of any socio-economic status.
Symptoms of Pulmonary Tuberculosis:
• Cough more than 2 weeks
• Blood in sputum
• Fever with evening rise
• Loss of weight
• Loss of appetite
• Night sweats
• Diabetes: With India rapidly becoming the diabetic capital of the world, there has been a rapid rise in the cases of tuberculosis.
• Malnutrition: Improper diet or diet deficient in essential nutrients may lead to higher chances of developing tuberculosis.
• Addiction: Smoking/ alcohol consumption or any other drug addiction has been proven to be a risk factor for TB.
• HIV: HIV leads to depression of the immune system and makes the patient more prone to develop TB.
• Chemotherapy: In patients affected with cancer and on chemotherapy there is suppression of immune system which makes them prone to develop tuberculosis.
• Other immunosuppressive conditions like chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease etc. are also risk factors.
Apart from the clinical examination your doctor may advise following investigations for diagnosis:
Sputum examination: Usually two samples of thick sputum are required, one of which is taken when the patient presents to the hospital and the second is the next day early morning fasting sample.
Chest radio graph: There are certain features on the chest radio graph which point to high suspicion or certain diagnosis of TB.
Mantoux test/ Tuberculin skin test: It is a test in which injection of tuberculin protein is injected in to the skin of forearm (preferably left) and the reaction is noted in 48-72 hours.
Bronchoscopy:It is a test in which the airways are visualized through a scope and appropriate samples are taken from the affected area. These samples are then subjected to lab investigations to diagnose tuberculosis.
Treatment of TB is largely based on whether the patient has taken anti- tuberculosis treatment in his/her life. Depending upon the history of the patient and his clinical condition, duration as well as dosage of the treatment may change. However, treatment of TB mostly remains medical and less likely involves surgical methods.It is also necessary that the patient takes the medicine as advised by the doctor and completes his/her course of the medications.
Prevention is always better than cure and it is imperative that on takes care of the following points to prevent TB.
• BCG vaccination of infants
• Good control of blood sugar levels
• Proper nutrition
• Avoiding alcohol, smoking or other addictions
• Adopting cough etiquettes