Contributed by Abshar Faheem
Tuberculosis is a communicable disease that occurs when a certain type of bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis attacks the lungs and other organs of the body. This bacteria can be transferred from one person to another through tiny droplets discharged into the air via coughs and sneezes.
If someone inhales TB bacteria and gets infected, it doesn’t mean he or she will get sick. Hence, there are two forms of tuberculosis: latent TB and active TB. Latent TB occurs when someone gets infected with the germs but when your immune system prevents the germs from spreading into the lungs and other organs of the body.
These bacterias are not in the contagious stage but they are still lively and one day, they can become active. If your immune system is weak or you have HIV, you may have a higher risk of reactivation of bacterias. Your doctor can help you to prevent the reactivation of bacterias with the help of certain medications.
Active TB occurs when the germs are in the active stage and spread to the lungs and other organs in the body. They can occur within a few days after infection with TB bacteria. Certain symptoms start appearing such as loss of appetite, fever, fatigue, coughing up blood, and unexpected weight loss.
Why is World TB Day observed?
On March 24, 1882, Dr. Robert Koch, a German physician, and microbiologist, discovered a bacteria that causes tuberculosis. It uncovered the ways to diagnose and cure this disease. Previously, TB was a leading cause of death. But after the discovery of TB bacteria, it becomes easy to cure the disease with antibiotics. Hence, March 24 is observed as World TB day.
Causes of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis. You can only get infected with TB if you come in contact with people who have TB. It does not spread by shaking hands, sharing toothbrushes, sharing food and drink, and kissing. When a person inhales TB bacterias, these bacterias get to settle into the lungs and start growing. From there, they spread other parts of the body through blood.
Symptoms of tuberculosis
If someone experiences latent TB, he or she will not get symptoms as germs are in the inactive stage but if he or she experiences active TB, several symptoms may develop. They include:
- A cough that lasts more than 3 weeks
- loss of appetite
- coughing up blood
- chest pain
- feeling tired all the time
- weight loss
- sweating at night
The bottom line
Your treatment depends upon the type of tuberculosis you have. If you experience latent tuberculosis, your doctor will give you certain medications to kill the bacterias so that they don’t become active. If you get symptoms of active TB, talk to your doctor because active TB is a serious illness that affects your overall health badly.
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