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Understanding causes, symptoms, treatment of tuberculosis?

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What is tuberculosis?
Tubercolosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs. The bacteria that cause TB are spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms
Most people infected with the bacteria that cause tuberculosis don’t have symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they usually include a cough (sometimes blood-tinged), weight loss, night sweats and fever.

Pain areas: in the chest

Pain circumstances: can occur while breathing

Cough: can be chronic or with blood

Whole-body: chills, fatigue, and loss of appetite, malaise, or night sweats

Also common: wasting, muscle atrophy, phlegm, shortness of breath, or swollen lymph nodes
Diagnosis

During the physical exam, your doctor will check your lymph nodes for swelling and use a stethoscope to listen carefully to the sounds your lungs make while you breathe.

The most commonly used diagnostic tool for tuberculosis is a simple skin test, though blood tests are becoming more commonplace. A small amount of a substance called PPD tuberculin is injected just below the skin of your inside forearm. You should feel only a slight needle prick.

Within 48 to 72 hours, a health care professional will check your arm for swelling at the injection site. A hard, raised red bump means you’re likely to have TB infection. The size of the bump determines whether the test results are significant.

Treatment
Medications are the cornerstone of tuberculosis treatment. But treating TB takes much longer than treating other types of bacterial infections.

For active tuberculosis, you must take antibiotics for at least six to nine months. The exact drugs and length of treatment depend on your age, overall health, possible drug resistance and the infection’s location in the body.

Most common TB drugs
If you have latent tuberculosis, you may need to take only one or two types of TB drug. Active tuberculosis, particularly if it’s a drug-resistant strain, will require several drugs at once. The most common medications used to treat tuberculosis include: Isoniazid, Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane), Ethambutol (Myambutol) and Pyrazinamide.

If you have drug-resistant TB, a combination of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones and injectable medications, such as amikacin or capreomycin (Capastat), are generally used for 20 to 30 months. Some types of TB are developing resistance to these medications as well.

Some drugs may be used as add-on therapy to the current drug-resistant combination treatment, including: Bedaquiline (Sirturo) and Linezolid (Zyvox).


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