The very name usually brings jitters to many patients. And most of them look crestfallen at the mention of the name of the disease. Although it was once one of the greatest killers of the century, the incidence slowly decreased around the 1970s. With the discovery of the Human Immunodeficieny Virus or HIV as it is commonly known as the problem of TB began to become serious again. A common misconception about this disease is that it affects only the lungs and cough with sputum is the only manifestation. Although involvement of the lungs is the most common presentation, TB can affect any part of the body. More than the disease, the stigma associated with the disease is more damaging to the patient physically, mentally and socially.
We get a lot of questions from the patients and their relatives when they are diagnosed with tuberculosis. We have compiled a list of few frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the same. We would love to answer any other questions asked.
How is it caused?
TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It enters the body by the nasal route, when an infected person coughs out his sputum. The bacteria affect persons who have a weak immune system; affects people in both extremes of age, when your immune system is already down due to some illness or when you are on steroids. Is it a communicable disease? This is one of the common questions asked by the patients’ relatives. Yes TB is a communicable disease, but only in the initial phases. After 2 months of treatment the person becomes non infective to others. Tb spreads through the air. One cannot get TB by shaking hands, sitting on a toilet or using the same utensils of a person with TB. Is there a vaccine for TB? BCG is a vaccine given in the first week of life to infants in our country (India). It is a vaccine for tuberculosis. As a result of this you may develop a positive reaction to the Mantoux test. However this vaccine does not give you complete protection against TB.
What are the symptoms?
Can TB be treated?
Yes, of course TB can be treated completely. It requires 6 – 9months of drugs depending on the disease and some effort to be regular in the treatment. Treatment of TB is a team effort. It starts from the patient, involves the relatives, friends and the health care provider.
Contact your healthcare provide for further information regarding the treatment.