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Knowing Tuberculosis: Symptoms and Treatment

Knowing Tuberculosis: Symptoms and Treatment

August 31, 2022
Knowing Tuberculosis: Symptoms and Treatment

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. If you’re infected, develop symptoms, and are contagious, you have active tuberculosis or tuberculosis disease. People with active tuberculosis must take many types of medications for months to get rid of the infection and prevent antibiotic resistance.

What Is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that often infects the lungs. Other organs such as the kidneys, spine, or brain may also be affected. This infection is mainly spread from person to person through the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes. TB can also cause an active infection after not being active in someone who was exposed at an earlier time. 

TB affects all ages, races, income levels, and genders. Those at higher risk include:

  • Homeless people
  • People who live or work with others who have TB
  • People who abuse alcohol
  • People who use injection drugs
  • Those who can’t access healthcare
  • People from countries where TB is more common
  • People in group settings, such as nursing homes
  • Healthcare workers who come in contact with high-risk populations
  • Very young children and older adults
  • People with a weak immune system, including those who have HIV, cancer, a transplant, or are taking medicines that suppress the immune system

Symptoms of Tuberculosis

Typical symptoms of TB include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Swellings in the neck
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • A persistent cough that lasts more than 3 weeks and usually brings up phlegm, which may be bloody
  • High temperature
  • Tiredness and fatigue

What Causes Tuberculosis?

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the main cause of tuberculosis. The infection is spread when a person with active TB disease in their lungs coughs or sneezes and someone else inhales the expelled droplets, which contain TB bacteria. You would have to spend prolonged periods in close contact with an infected person to catch the infection yourself.

Tuberculosis Treatment

If you have become infected with TB, but do not have active TB disease you should get preventive therapy. This treatment kills germs that could cause problems if the disease becomes active. The most common preventive therapy is a daily dose of the antibiotic isoniazid (INH) taken as a single daily pill for six to nine months. You are not contagious if you have latent TB.

It is important to finish your medication and them exactly as prescribed. If you stop taking the medication too soon you can become sick again and potentially spread the disease to others. Moreover, by taking the medications incorrectly, TB germs that are still alive may become drug-resistant which can make it harder for you to get better next time. 

Recommended medication for TB:

  • Pyrazinamide – this is an anti-tubercular drug that belongs to the class of drugs known as an antibiotic. This medication works by stopping the growth of the bacteria affecting the lungs. Pyrazinamide inhibits the enzyme of the bacteria. It interferes with the energy production needed for their survival. 

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