Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects your lungs.
How is Tuberculosis spread?
TB is spread through the air when a person with active TB disease spreads the bacteria by coughing, sneezing, shouting, speaking or singing and other people nearby breathe in the bacteria.
The difference between active and latent TB disease
People infected with TB bacteria may not get sick because their bodies are able to fight off the infection. This is called latent or inactive TB, and is not infectious.
Although tuberculosis is contagious, it's not easy to catch. You're much more likely to get tuberculosis from someone you live with or work with than from a stranger. Most people with active TB who've had appropriate drug treatment for at least two weeks are no longer contagious.
High-risk groups of tuberculosis
A healthy immune system often successfully fights TB bacteria, but your body can't mount an effective defence if your resistance is low.
You are most at risk if you:
- live with, or work daily with, someone with active TB
- come from a country with a high prevalence of TB
- have other health problems, especially HIV or AIDS.
A number of diseases and medications can also weaken your immune system, including:
- Severe kidney disease
- Certain cancers
- Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy
- Drugs to prevent rejection of transplanted organs
- Some drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and psoriasis
People with TB can:
- feel tired, fatigued and unwell
- have a bad cough that last at least three weeks
- lose weight and have a loss of appetite
- have a fever and sweat in bed at night
- cough up blood or sputum
See your doctor if you have a fever, unexplained weight loss, drenching night sweats or a persistent cough. These are often signs of TB, but they can also result from other medical problems. Your doctor can perform tests to help determine the cause. Your doctor may order:
- TB skin and blood tests
- sputum tests
- chest X-rays
The results of the tests can take a long time - 6 weeks or more - to come back.
For latent TB your doctor can prescribe tablets to reduce the risk of you developing active TB.
For active TB, you will be prescribed a combination of special antibiotics, which you must take for at least six months.
You may need initial treatment in hospital. If you complete the full treatment, you can be cured of TB disease.
Sourced from Health Direct in Health Facts
06 Mar 2017