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Tuberculosis - Signs, Symptoms & Treatment of Tuberculosis (T.B.)

An infectious disease that was once a major killer worldwide. The predominant TB organism is Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis). The bacteria that cause the disease are inhaled in the form of microscopic droplets that come from a person with tuberculosis. When coughing, speaking or sneezing, the small droplets are expelled into the air. They dry out quickly, but the bacteria itself can remain airborne for hours. Spread person-to-person in airborne droplets caused by sneezing or coughing, the bacteria usually infects the lungs. Tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease that is transmitted during coughing and sneezing. Nearly one-third of the world's population is infected with Tuberculosis (TB), which kills almost 3 million people per year. TB causes more deaths than any other infectious agent in the world. In the mid-1980s, a resurgence of outbreaks in the United States brought renewed attention to TB. An increase in high risk, immuno-suppressed individuals, particularly those infected with HIV, lead to an increase in TB cases. The number of reported TB cases and the national TB case rate are now at their lowest levels since TB reporting began in 1953.

Signs & Symptoms of Tuberculosis ( T.B. ) :-

Patients may present without symptoms or in an extremely debilitated state. Symptom-free disease may be detected during routine screening. Symptoms may include malaise, weight loss, and night sweats. Most patients with TB have pulmonary disease; extrapulmonary disease usually is seen in immunocompromised patients.

Symptoms include:

  • cough that is worse in the morning (sometimes with hemoptysis, blood in the sputum),
  • chest pain,
  • breathlessness,
  • night sweats .

In advanced stage:-

  • there may be extreme weight loss.
  • Examination with a stethoscope may reveal diminished breath sounds,
  • bronchial breathing,
  • tracheal deviation,
  • and coarse crackles.

Tuberculosis is difficult to diagnose because the signs and symptoms are seen in other diseases, such as the following:

  • Carcinoma of the lung (frequently creates cavities in lung tissue)
  • Pneumonia (can proceed to cavitation and resemble TB on chest x-ray)
  • Allergic bronchopulmonary asperigollosis (marked by inflammatory granulomatous lesions in bronchi)
  • Sarcoidosis, allergic alveolitis, pneumoconiosis, silicosis (biopsy and allergy screening eliminate these from diagnosis; silicosis predisposes to tuberculosis)
  • Anorexia nervosa, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism (chronic malaise, fatigue and cachexia [wasting])
  • Mediastinial lymphadenopathy (may also be lymphoma)

Body parts affected by Tuberculosis ( T.B. ):-

First and foremost, tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs. However, the infection can spread via blood from the lungs to all organs in the body. This means that you can develop tuberculosis in the pleura (the covering of the lungs), in the bones, the urinary tract and sexual organs, the intestines and even in the skin.

Lymph nodes in the lung root and on the throat can also get infected.

Tuberculosis meningitis is sometimes seen in newly infected children. This form of the disease is a life-threatening condition.

How Tuberculosis / T.B. spread ?

By air borne droplet infection :-

Tuberculosis is transmitted mainly buy droplet infection and droplet nuclei generated by sputum- positive patient with pulmonary tuberculosis. After the tuberculosis bacteria have been inhaled in the form of microscopic droplets that come from a person with tuberculosis.

Mechanism of droplet infection of Tuberculosis ( T.B. )

Droplets are generated by the respiratory apparatus during coughing, spitting, sneezing, talking, singing and other respiratory maneuvers. Coughing produces 3500 droplet nuclei which equates with speaking for 5 minutes in anormal tone.these droplets are dispersed through out space and evaporate to a tiny particle called droplet nucleus. The organism which these nuclei contain can remain viable for a very long time. Ther are neither filtered by simple gauze mask, nor prevented from entering room air by covering the mouth and nose during coughin. Coughing generates the largest number of droplets of all sizes.they reach the lungs and, within approximately six weeks, a small infection appears that rarely gives any symptoms.

By direct inoculation through the skin:-

Tubercle bacilli may also gain enterance into the body by direct inoculation through the skin by doctors, nurses, pathologist and laboratory workers as in laboratory accidents and / during post mortem examination.

After this, the bacteria can then spread through the blood. If you have a healthy immune system, in most cases the infection will remain dormant without doing any obvious harm.

Months or even years later, however, the disease can become reactivated in different organs if the immune system is weakened. The lungs are the favourite place for the illness to strike. Tuberculosis can attack any part of the body, but lungs are more prone to it, because of breathing in the air containing tuberculosis germs. When coughing, speaking or sneezing, the small droplets are expelled into the air. They dry out quickly, but the bacteria itself can remain airborne for hours . Bronchitis, pneumonia, smoker's lung and lung cancer can all show practically the same symptoms as tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is not transmitted by fomites such as dishes and other articles used by the patients.

Incubation Period Of Tuberculosis ( T.B. ):-

The time from receipt of infection to the development of positive tuberculine test ranges from three to six weeks and there after the development of disease depends upon the closeness of contact, extent of the disease and sputum positivity of the source case ( dose of infection ) and host - parasite relationship. Does the incubation period may be weeks, months and years.

Diagnosis of Tuberculosis ( T.B. ):-

The chest X-ray examination is the most important test. If there are changes in the lungs, a sample of sputum will be sent for microscopic examination and culture. Tuberculosis is distinguished from other causes of coughing on the basis of hemoptysis and/or weight loss. A cough, either productive or nonproductive, is considered to be a chest infection or inflammation ( helgap ) until the hemoptysis or weight loss characteristic of tuberculosis occur. When fever and chills are prominent and hemoptysis is absent, tuberculosis may also be confused with malaria.

Home Remedies of Tuberculosis ( T.B.)

  • Parsnip juice and lettuce is used for tuberculosis. Tuberculosis and gastric disturbances can greatly benefit from fresh lettuce juice (other than Iceberg). Lettuce has great quantities of iron and magnesium and is a great diuretic.
  • The root finds its efficacy in the treatment of tuberculosis. A decoction of the root is used with long pepper and honey. This decoction is also beneficial in the treatment of scrofula, that is tuberculosis of the lymph glands, especially in the neck.
  • A common folk remedy for cough that is used by Somali children and adults consists of a mixture of raw eggs, butter (similar to Indian ghee) and honey. Adults may make this for themselves early in the course of an upper respiratory infection. Young children with a cough may sometimes undergo a uvulectomy.

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