TUBERCULOSIS — A Comprehensive Overview
What is Tuberculosis or TB?
- TB, as it’s commonly called — is a contagious infection that usually attacks the lungs. It can also spread to other parts of the body, like the brain and spine.
- In the 20th century, TB was a leading cause of death in the United States. Today, most cases are cured with antibiotics. But it takes a long time. You have to take meds for at least 6 to 9 months.
Causative agent of Tuberculosis:
- Mycobacterium Tuberculosis.
How is it caused?
- Through the air, just like a cold or the flu. When someone who’s sick coughs, sneezes, talks, laughs, or sings, tiny droplets that contain the germs are released. If you breathe in these nasty germs, you get infected.
- TB is contagious, but it’s not easy to catch. The germs grow slowly. You usually have to spend a lot of time around a person who has it. That’s why it’s often spread among co-workers, friends, and family members.
- Tuberculosis germs don’t thrive on surfaces. You can’t get the disease from shaking hands with someone who has it, or by sharing their food or drink.
Symptoms of TB:
- A cough that lasts more than 3 weeks, sometimes with mucus and blood
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Feeling tired all the time
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Treatment of TB:
Active TB treatment:
If you have this form of the disease, you’ll need to take a number of antibiotics for 6 to 9 months. These four medications are most commonly used to treat it:
Treatment for Latent TB
There are two types of TB — latent and active.
Depending on your risk factors, latent TB can re-activate and cause an active infection. That’s why your doctor might prescribe medication to kill the inactive bacteria — just in case.
These are the three treatment options:
- Isoniazid (INH): This is the most common therapy for latent TB. You typically take an isoniazid antibiotic pill daily for 9 months.
- Rifampin : You take this antibiotic each day for 4 months. It’s an option if you have side effects or contraindications to INH.
- Isoniazid and rifapentine: You take both of these antibiotics once a week for 3 months under your doctor’s supervision.