Tuberculosis or TB is a bacterial and communicable disease that spreads by inhaling tiny droplets from an infected person’s sneezing or coughing (Ramen, 2012). Although this medical condition is serious and can lead to death, it can be treated quite easily especially if detected early enough. The main organ of the body affected by TB is the lungs. Nevertheless, the disease can affect other parts of the body such as circulatory system, central nervous system lymphatic system, and bones among others.
In the past, tuberculosis was referred to as consumption due to the drastic loss of weight by an infected person (Boutayeb, 2006). Symptoms of tuberculosis The symptoms of tuberculosis usually develop gradually and most of them might not even begin before some months or years have passed since the time an individual was exposed to bacterial infection. When the bacteria infect the body and no symptoms are caused, this condition is known as latent TB (Boutayeb, 2006). When the infection of the bacteria causes symptoms, the condition is referred to as active TB.
According to Webber (2009), some of the symptoms include an individual often having a constant cough that lasts for more than 3 weeks. This persistent cough may be accompanied by bloody phlegm. The patient may also experience unexplained pain, weight loss, fever, night sweats, tiredness, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Causes of tuberculosis As mentioned above, tuberculosis is a bacterial disease and is caused by a bacterium referred to as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This bacterium is spread from one person to another through airborne particles from the sneeze or cough of an infected person.
The only type of TB that is communicable is pulmonary tuberculosis. This is the TB infection that affects the lungs. An individual can be infected with this type of tuberculosis after prolonged exposure to a person who is already infected by the bacterium. However, it is noteworthy that it is not obvious that a person who is exposed to the bacteria will be infected (Webber, 2009). This is because the immune system of healthy individuals may kill the bacteria once they get inside his body.
However, there are instances where the immune system is only able to prevent the bacteria from spreading in the body and as such, they remain within the body without manifesting any symptoms. This condition as earlier mentioned is referred to as latent tuberculosis. In cases where the infection fails to be contained or killed by the immune system of the body, the disease spreads and the symptoms begin to manifest (Ramen, 2012). Diagnosis of tuberculosis It is worth noting that the diagnosis of tuberculosis is done through a combination of three tests namely Mantoux test, blood tests, and chest X-ray.
Mantoux test is commonly known as skin test. It involves injecting a small amount PPD (purified protein derivative tuberculin) in the forearm and the reaction of that injection at the site is observed after 2 to 3 days (Ramen, 2012). A positive test is confirmed by a raised red bump. Using a microscopic sputum analysis, a blood test can also establish the existence of tuberculosis bacteria in the body. Computer tomography, as well as Chest x-rays can be used to observe scar tissues which are formed to prevent the spread of TB infection in the body (Webber, 2009).
Treatment of tuberculosis Tuberculosis infection can be cured through professional treatment. Antibiotics are used to treat most patients and they are often taken for about 6 months continuously. Studies show that due to the existence of antibiotic resistant form of tuberculosis, treatment may take more than the usual six months, sometimes extending up to eighteen months (Boutayeb, 2006). Since tuberculosis is a communicable disease, it spreads from a person who is infected to another who is uninfected. For this reason, anyone can be infected with tuberculosis.
Nevertheless, there are some individuals who are at a higher risk of TB infection than others (Webber, 2009). These include those who reside with individual who already has active tuberculosis infections, individuals who are economically poor or homeless, persons who are born in countries with high rates of TB infections, prison inmates, residents of nursing homes, intravenous substance users, alcoholics, health care workers, those with immune system problems such as HIV/AIDS patients and those working and living in refugee camps (Ramen, 2012).
Conclusion and recommendations Tuberculosis is a communicable disease since it spreads via inhaling tiny droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough. The disease mainly affects the lungs although it may affect other parts of the body and can be prevented through vaccination. In places where TB infections are high, the BCG vaccine is used and it protects infants, as well as children against tuberculosis.
It should, however, be noted that tuberculosis can be prevented through eating healthy diet for purposes of boosting the immune system of the body. In areas where there are high rates of tuberculosis infections, it is prudent for individuals who come from such areas to undergo regular testing. For individuals who are already infected and taking treatment, they should ensure that they complete their medication. In an effort to prevent further spread of tuberculosis to other uninfected individuals, there should adequate ventilation presence of infected individuals; such individuals should also cover their mouth while coughing or sneezing, and stay away from a crowd of people.