Tuberculosis is a disease caused by infection of the lungs and airways with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In the past, there were many infected people, but with the development of curative medicines, it is now expected to be completely cured. However, there are still approximately 20,000 cases of the disease seen annually. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is transmitted by coughing and sneezing. The initial symptoms are similar to the common cold and can be ignored in the first place. If treatment is given early, it can be avoided from becoming severe and the risk of infection to humans is reduced. Therefore, early detection and early treatment are two important points. Below we will show the symptoms of tuberculosis and its treatment.
ways of contracting tuberculosis
Since Mycobacterium tuberculosis is transmitted by droplets (himatsu), it is transmitted from person to person through coughing and sneezing from patients who develop pulmonary tuberculosis. However, just because you have Mycobacterium tuberculosis does not necessarily mean that you will develop pulmonary tuberculosis. In most cases, the body’s immune system works to control the tubercle bacillus. It stops its activity and remains in the body as it is. If you are only infected and not sick, you will not transmit tubercle bacillus to humans. The probability of contracting the disease among those infected is said to be around 10% to 20%. In many cases, the onset of the disease is not immediately after infection, but rather after several months to a year or two. When immune function declines for some reason such as aging, tuberculosis bacilli that have been dormant begin to become active and may get sick even decades after infection. It should be noted that the cutlery used by the patient does not cause infection.
Symptoms of tuberculosis
The most common symptoms of tuberculosis are coughing, phlegm, fever, malaise, weight loss and night sweats. It may be confused with the common cold because it develops slowly and has mild symptoms in the early stages. As a point of distinction, if the cough persists for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor because you suspect pulmonary tuberculosis. Leaking blood is also a sign of pulmonary tuberculosis. As the disease progresses, it can become severe and make breathing difficult, or the disease can spread to other organs. In order to prevent the symptoms from becoming serious and to stop the infection to the people around you, it is advisable to notice the onset of the disease at the earliest possible stage and start treatment. Please note that the elderly may suffer from a few subjective symptoms, and thus we have answered the question, What are the symptoms of tuberculosis?
If pulmonary TB is already suspected, a chest X-ray or CT scan will be done to see if TB lesions are visible in the lungs. In addition, sputum will be collected and examined by microscopy and culture test to see if it contains Bacillus tuberculosis. To find out if you have M. tuberculosis, take a tuberculin test or blood test. In the tuberculin test, if a person has tuberculosis, the injection site becomes red and swollen, but the same reaction can be seen in people who have received the BCG vaccine, which can be difficult to judge. That is why, recently, a blood test called “IGRA”, which measures interferon gamma, is increasingly being performed.
Treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis
Basically, drug treatment is carried out. Depending on the patient’s condition, several anti-tuberculosis drugs should be taken daily for 6 months. If a simple test shows that it contains TB bacteria, it is very likely that it will pass to the people around you, so you will have to be admitted to the hospital for treatment. The standard length of stay is one to three months, you can often be discharged in about two months. However, even after discharge from the hospital, you must continue taking the medication. If the patient stops taking the medicine, the medicine may no longer work for the TB bacilli, so it is important to follow the doctor’s instructions and continue taking the medicine until the end of treatment.
Precautions after treatment
The BCG vaccine is effective in preventing exacerbations of pulmonary tuberculosis and is now required to be received at the age of one year. However, this only creates immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and prevents it from becoming a serious condition after the onset of the disease, and does not prevent infection with TB itself. If you are known to have Mycobacterium tuberculosis and your risk of developing the disease is high due to various conditions, you can take a treatment measure called chemoprophylaxis. It is difficult to prevent tuberculosis, but regular medical check-ups can lead to early detection and prevent the spread and severity of the infection.
Symptoms of tuberculosis in the neck
This type of TB is more common in HIV-infected patients and women between 20 and 40 years old, in contrast to pulmonary TB, which is more common in older men. Streptococcal tuberculosis results in generalized symptoms such as hypothermia and weight loss, which may cause a person not to seek medical help right away. Other symptoms present are:
- Swollen glands in the neck, occiput, armpit or groin, usually 3 cm but can be 8-10 cm in diameter.
- The swollen glands are not painful.
- The nodes are tough and difficult to move.
- lack of appetite
- There may be exaggerated night sweats.
- A drop in temperature to 38°C, especially at the end of the day.
- excessive fatigue
Symptoms of tuberculosis in children
Infection and symptoms of tuberculosis develop in children, causing fever, fatigue, irritability, persistent cough, weakness, heavy and rapid breathing, night sweats, swollen glands, weight loss, and poor growth. In a very small number of children (especially those younger than four years old), a TB infection can spread through the bloodstream and affect almost any organ in the body. This disease requires more complex treatment, and the earlier it is started, the better the outcome. These children are more likely to develop tuberculous meningitis, a serious form of the disease that affects the brain and central nervous system.
Children at risk of developing tuberculosis should have a skin test for tuberculosis (sometimes called purified tuberculin-derived protein). The test is done in your pediatrician’s office by injecting purified, inactivated TB germs into the skin of the forearm. If an infection occurs, your child’s skin will be swollen and red at the injection site. The pediatrician will examine your skin forty-eight to seventy-two hours after the injection, and measure the diameter of the reaction. This skin test will detect a previous bacterial infection, even if the child has no symptoms and his body has successfully fought the disease.
A chest X-ray will be ordered to determine if there is evidence of an active or past infection in the lungs. If the X-ray indicates the possibility of an active infection, the pediatrician will also check for TB bacteria in your child’s cough secretions or in his stomach. This is done to determine the type of treatment. If your child’s skin test is positive, but there are no symptoms or signs of an active TB infection, he or she is still infected. To prevent the infection from becoming active, your pediatrician will prescribe a medicine called isoniazid (INH). This medication must be taken by mouth once daily for at least nine months. For an active TB infection, the pediatrician will prescribe three or four medicines. You will need to give it to your baby for six to twelve months. Your child may be admitted to the hospital initially to start treatment, although most of this treatment can be done at home.
Symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis
Pulmonary tuberculosis is a bacterial infection of the lungs that can spread to other organs. It is very easy for bacteria to spread from one infected individual to another. Routes of infection can be through inhalation of water droplets after an infected person coughs or sneezes. The symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis are:
- difficulty breathing
- pain in chest
- Coughing up mucus
- Coughing up blood
- excessive sweating
- Specifically at night
- weight loss
These symptoms vary according to the area of the body in which the bacteria multiply. In the case of pulmonary TB, the affected area is the lungs, and thus the symptoms appear in that area. Thus, we have explained in detail the most important and common symptoms of tuberculosis, its treatment, and how to deal with it.