Coughing happens when we have a cold and flu. But if you experience constant coughing, feel tired and weak, suddenly lose weight and appetite, it is possible you have tuberculosis (TB). Consider seeing your doctor right away if you notice these symptoms.
A lot of people who suffer from tuberculosis do not receive proper treatment, especially those who are from developing countries. Factors such as living in areas with limited access to healthcare, lack of awareness about common diseases, even the social stigma of having (TB), impedes medical attention.
What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious infectious disease. It is transferable from one person to another by air, direct contact like kissing and drinking from a glass with infected saliva. Although TB is contagious, it may take a while for the infection to begin, depending on the strength of the immune system.
The bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis usually causes the disease, which is either latent or active. Latent tuberculosis is inactive and not contagious. This means the infection is present and the bacteria remain in the system. But symptoms do not occur and the infection may not spread. Although latent tuberculosis is inactive it has a 10 percent chance of becoming active due to lifestyle, environmental factors and immune system failure
Active tuberculosis, meanwhile, makes a person sick, with obvious symptoms. It may occur a few weeks after the infection or many years later. It is transferable to another person.
Diagnosis and Tests
1. Acid-fast Bacillus Stain
This test helps in identifying the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other bacterial infection.
2. Chest X-Ray
This test may aid in diagnosing if the patient has tuberculosis, heart disease, and pneumonia. Further testing is advisable if x-ray results show opacity or very light areas around the lung area.
3. TB Skin-Test
This screens people who are at risk of TB due to a very weak immune system or prolonged exposure. A type of protein is injected on the first layer of the skin to identify TB presence.
Signs of Tuberculosis
Warning signs that you might have pulmonary tuberculosis:
- Coughing for more than a week
- Coughing with mucus and blood
- Feeling pained during breathing
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Chills and night sweats
Tuberculosis is not a simple sickness as it can cause death if not treated immediately. If the patient starts coughing up blood, he or she must see a doctor immediately. Treatment can be done with antibiotics.
Bacille-Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine can help to prevent catching TB. BCG can be used for a selected group of people who can meet the specific standard criteria set by TB experts. Doing this help avoid complications.
Using a mask daily, especially when interacting with people can help to prevent TB. This is imperative if you are working in areas with a high presence of TB.
Who are at Risk of TB
There are people who have weak immune systems and can easily catch different illness from other people. Those who are malnourished or have HIV and AIDS, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases are at risk.
Complications of TB
- Spinal pain
- Liver and kidney damage
- Heart problem (rare complication)
- Joint damage
Tuberculosis should be treated immediately after diagnoses for fastest recovery. This helps you avoid further complications. Like other diseases, if left untreated, tuberculosis may lead to death.