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Tuberculosis: what it is, types, main symptoms and transmission

Tuberculosis is an infectious contagious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, popularly known as Koch's bacillus (BK), which enters the body through the upper airways and lodges in the lung or other parts of the body, characterizing extrapulmonary tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis symptoms are usually related to where the bacteria are, and it is more common to have respiratory symptoms such as a dry, bloody cough, chest pain when coughing and difficulty breathing. 

It is important that the person consults the infectologist or general practitioner as soon as the first symptoms indicative of tuberculosis appear, as this way it is possible to start the treatment immediately afterwards, which is usually done with a combination of antibiotics.

-Main symptoms

The symptoms of tuberculosis are mainly related to the development of bacteria in the lungs, and there may be a dry and persistent cough with or without blood, weight loss, chest pain when coughing and breathing difficulties.

However, when the bacteria develops in other organs, it is possible that other symptoms such as excessive tiredness, night sweats, fever and swelling in the place where the bacteria are installed may appear. 

-Types of Tuberculosis

According to the place where the tuberculosis bacterium settles and develops, tuberculosis can be classified into some types, the main ones being:

-Pulmonary Tuberculosis: It is the most common form of the disease and occurs due to the entry of the bacillus into the upper airways and accommodation in the lungs.

This type of tuberculosis is characterized by constant dry cough, with or without blood, cough being the main form of contagion, since the droplets of saliva released through the cough contain the Koch's bacilli, which can infect other people;

-Miliary tuberculosis: It is one of the most serious forms of tuberculosis and occurs when the bacillus enters the bloodstream and reaches all organs, with a risk of meningitis. In addition to the lung being severely affected, other organs may also be affected;

-Bone tuberculosis: Although not very common, it occurs when the bacillus manages to penetrate and develop in the bones, which can cause pain and inflammation, which is not always initially diagnosed and treated as tuberculosis;

-Ganglion Tuberculosis: It is caused by the entry of the bacillus into the lymphatic system and may affect the ganglia of the thorax, groin, abdomen or, more frequently, the neck. This type of extrapulmonary tuberculosis is not contagious and is curable when treated correctly;

-Pleural Tuberculosis: Occurs when the bacillus affects the pleura, the tissue that lines the lungs, causing severe difficulty in breathing. This type of extrapulmonary tuberculosis is not contagious, however it can be acquired by coming into contact with a person with pulmonary tuberculosis or it may be an evolution of pulmonary tuberculosis.

It is important that the type of tuberculosis is identified by the infectologist or general practitioner according to the symptoms presented by the person and the results of tests, as this may allow the appropriate treatment to be started to fight the bacteria and thus prevent the development of disease and emergence of complications.

-How the transmission happens

Tuberculosis can be transmitted through the air, from person to person through the inspiration of infected droplets released through coughing, sneezing, or speaking. Transmission can only happen if there is pulmonary involvement and up to 15 days after starting treatment. 

People who have compromised immune systems due to disease or age, who smoke and/or consume drugs are more likely to be infected by the tuberculosis bacillus and develop the disease.

The prevention of the most severe forms of tuberculosis can be done through the BCG vaccine in childhood. In addition, it is recommended to avoid closed, poorly ventilated places with little or no sun exposure, but it is essential to stay away from people diagnosed with tuberculosis.

-How is the treatment done?

Tuberculosis treatment is free, so if the person suspects that they have the disease, they should go to the hospital or health post immediately. 

Treatment consists of using tuberculostatic medications for approximately 6 months in a row or as directed by the pulmonologist. In general, the treatment regimen indicated for tuberculosis is the combination of Rifampicin, Isoniazid, Pyrazinamide and Ethambutol.

In the first 15 days of treatment, the person must be isolated, as they can still transmit the tuberculosis bacillus to other people. After this period, you can return to your normal routine and continue using the medications. 

-Tuberculosis is curable

Tuberculosis is curable when the treatment is done correctly according to the doctor's recommendations. The treatment time is around 6 consecutive months, which means that even if the symptoms disappear in 1 week, the person should continue taking the medication until completing 6 months. 

If this does not happen, it may be that the tuberculosis bacillus is not eliminated from the body and the disease is not cured, in addition, there may be bacterial resistance, which makes treatment more difficult.

(Reference - WebMD, Healthline)

Content created and supplied by: Zeeboi598 (via Opera News )

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