LiveMD discusses the signs and symptoms of this disease, which affects over 9 million people worldwide and accounts for 1.5 million deaths every year.
What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that can travel through the lymph nodes in the body and infect different organs. The organ that is most commonly affected is the lungs. The TB bacteria may lie dormant in a person’s body for many years, causing no symptoms but when it becomes active, it begins to kill the tissue of the organs that it has infected. The people most at risk for developing tuberculosis are those with compromised immune systems and the elderly.
What are the Symptoms of Tuberculosis?
The symptoms of tuberculosis include:
- Coughing up blood
- Extreme fatigue
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Night Sweats
What Treatment Options are Available?
If TB is dormant in the body and is not producing any symptoms, a single antibiotic will usually be given to be taken every day for a period of up to a year. When tuberculosis is active it can be extremely difficult to treat. Often many different antibiotics must be taken for a duration of 6-12 months. The tuberculosis bacteria can also become resistant to certain antibiotics, making it even more difficult to treat. In these cases, oral antibiotic therapy is combined with injectable antibiotics to better fight of the infection.
How Can I Keep From Getting Sick?
Tuberculosis is a very infectious disease and can be passed from person to person very easily. The TB bacteria is spread by inhaling the germs that are expelled from an infected person who talks, coughs or sneezes. The most effective way to keep from getting sick is to stay away from people who are infected with the bacteria until they have undergone at least 2 weeks of treatment, especially if you have a compromised immune system. If you must be around those who are infected, it is very beneficial to wear a face mask.
If you do become sick with tuberculosis it is very important to take your medication exactly as prescribed. Make sure you follow all of your doctor’s instructions and take all of your medication, without skipping doses or stopping before the course of therapy is done. Because tuberculosis is such a difficult infection to treat, it is important to follow all of your doctor’s advice.
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