Today is World Tuberculosis day! UN states that in a year there are almost 9 million cases of TB reported in which about 3 million people do not have the access to get treated. Being aware is half the treatment most times.
Learn more about the disease and if you find people showing symptoms of TB, do help them reach the right treatment. An affected person, if untreated spreads the disease to those around him/her. Let us eradicate the disease from the roots.
What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is a disease spread by a bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis. This bacterium most commonly affects the lungs, but it can spread to any part of the body. It spreads from an affected person to another, by coughing, sneezing or other respiratory fluids transmitted through air. Living or working in close quarters with a TB affected person most certainly affects those around.
What does the bacterium do?
Few people affected by TB do not develop any symptoms. Due to the person’s strong immune system, the bacterium lies in an inactive state inside the body and does not spread across. In cases when the person’s immunity levels are low, the bacterium is activated and it causes death of the tissue in the organs that they are present in (most probably the lungs).
Hence, if people around you were found affected by TB, irrespective of whether you exhibit symptoms of the disease or not, it is necessary to consult a doctor and get treated. You might be affected with latent TB and this might get active at any stage.
What are the symptoms of Tuberculosis?
- Persistent cough
- Blood in sputum
- Pain near the chest
- Loss of appetite
- Loss in weight, tiredness
- Fever and night
- Pain in breathing
How can you diagnose TB?
If you experience any symptoms stated above or if you were in close vicinity to a patient suffering from TB, consult a doctor immediately for a check up. Usually a chest X-ray and sputum smear microscopy are usually methods adopted to diagnose TB. These methods do not detect all forms of TB and newer techniques are being invented to detect all forms of TB. It is particularly difficult to detect TB in children.
TB is a curable disease. Drug treatable TB is prescribed a long term course (6 months) of anti microbial drugs. It is very important to complete the entire course and not stop in between even if the patient feels better.
The bacterium becomes active only in cases where the immunity levels of the patient is low. So it is important to have a good immunity levels and make sure you don’t go very close to people affected by TB.
Key facts about the disease (sourced from WHO) :
- Tuberculosis is the second most deadliest disease after HIV/AIDS due to a single infectious agent
- TB is a leading killer of people with HIV, causing 1/5th of all deaths
- Over 95% of deaths due to TB occur in low and middle income countries
- It is one of the top three causes of deaths among women aged between 15 and 44
- Between 1990 and 2012, the number of deaths due to Tb dropped by 45%
- In 2012, about 8.6 million people were infected by TB in which around 1.3 died
Take a step to make people around you understand the seriousness of the disease. Most people fall victims to this deadly disease without proper understanding. Prevention is always and most certainly better than cure.
Do your part to save lives! Take care. Live a healthy life!