What is tuberculosis (TB)?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that primarily affects the lungs. Caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium, TB can lead to severe complications if left untreated. The infection occurs when these bacteria survive and multiply, risking damage to the lungs, and potentially affecting other organs, including the brain, lymph nodes, kidneys, bones, and joints, as it spreads through the blood.
Is TB infectious?
TB is transmitted through airborne water droplets from an infected individual who coughs or sneezes. Infection occurs when these contaminated air particles are inhaled. It’s important to note that TB is not spread through casual contact, and transmission doesn’t occur via sharing utensils with TB patients.
Identifying TB: Common Symptoms
Recognising the symptoms of TB is crucial for timely intervention. Common symptoms include:
- Persistent cough: A wet or dry cough lasting for more than 3 weeks.
- Chest pain: Pain in the chest when coughing or breathing.
- Weight loss: Unexplained weight loss and a loss of appetite.
- Fever: Typically, a low-grade fever lasting several weeks.
- Night sweats: Episodes of sweating during nighttime, unrelated to the room temperature.
Individuals with weakened immune systems, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS, are at an elevated risk of contracting tuberculosis. Notably, some individuals may remain asymptomatic during the early stages, with the bacteria surviving but not causing symptoms. However, iHowver, n some cases, the bacteria might undergo reactivation, leading to the development of active TB when the immune system is compromised by various factors.
When should I see a doctor?
If you suspect TB or experience symptoms, prompt medical attention is crucial. While symptoms may resemble those of other respiratory infections, a doctor’s evaluation is necessary, especially if symptoms such as a cough persists for more than 3 weeks. Diagnostic tests such as chest X-rays or sputum tests are available at StarMed to screen for TB.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
- Coughing up blood
- Severe difficulty breathing
- High fever above 38.3°C
- Confusion or seizures