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Tuberculosis (TB) - a Serious Infection

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

tuberculosis-tb-a-serious-infection

Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a preventable disease, yet it is the world’s leading infectious disease killer. People that are immune suppressed have a weakened immune system making them unable to fight TB germs.

TB primarily affects the lungs, but it can affect other parts of the body. It is spread between people by tiny droplets spread through the air with a cough or sneeze. Most of the infected people do not have symptoms, which is called latent tuberculosis. These people do not spread the disease, but diagnosis and early treatment is important. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacteria that causes TB.

Statistics

In 2019, 1.4 million people died from TB. One fourth of the world’s population (2 billion people) are infected with the TB bacteria. Globally 465,000 people have drug-resistant TB, and 1.2 million children fell ill.

India had 2.64 million cases and the U.S. had 8,920 new cases in 2019. From 2011 to 2018 in the United Kingdom new cases dropped from 8,280 to 4,672 and Australia had 6.9 cases per 100,000 people in 2019.

This was a rare disease, but beginning in 1985 the number increased, partly due to HIV (the virus causing AIDS) and all immunosuppressed patients. The numbers in the United States did start to decrease again in 1993.

Lungs shows TB

Lungs shows TB

People at Risk

This disease can affect people of any age, race, gender or income level. The people at the highest risk include:

  • People who work or live with those that have TB
  • People that have no access to health care
  • People from countries where TV is prevalent, specifically Latin America, Africa and Asia
  • People with a weakened immune system (HIV/AIDS, kidney disease, chemotherapy)
  • Homeless people
  • People who live in group settings, like nursing homes
  • People from countries where TB is prevalent
  • People who use intravenous drugs
  • People who abuse alcohol
  • Elderly population
  • Healthcare workers coming into contact with the high-risk population

Stages of TB

There are three stages of TB. and they include:

  1. Exposure occurs when an individual comes into contact with or is exposed to a person who has TB. This exposed person will have a normal chest x-ray, a negative skin test and no symptoms of the disease at first.
  2. The latent infection occurs when the individual has the TB bacteria without symptoms. The immune system will actually wall off the bacteria rendering the bacteria inactive throughout life for some people. They will have a positive skin test but a normal chest x-ray.
  3. The individual with TB disease will have signs and symptoms of the active disease, which means a positive skin test and chest x-ray.

Tuberculosis (TB): Progression of the Disease, Latent and Active Infections

Signs and Symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms for TB, including:

  • Coughing for three or more weeks
  • Chest pain
  • Pain with coughing or breathing
  • Coughing up mucus or blood
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills or night sweats

TB can also affect your kidneys, spine or brain. The signs and symptoms will be specific to the involved organs. For instance, you may see blood in your urine.

Diagnosis

There are several types of tests to detect the TB bacteria, which include a TB blood test and a TB skin test. Either test tells us if a person has been infected. However, it does not tell us if an individual has latent TB or if they have progressed to TB disease.

A chest x-ray or a sputum sample are used to diagnose the disease.

tuberculosis-tb-a-serious-infection

Treatment

Treatment may depend on many factors that include age, overall health, the degree of your illness, how well you handle specific medications and how long the condition is expected to last. Treatment may include short-term hospitalization.

Newly diagnosed TB patients typically requires a 6-12 month course of an antibiotic (isoniazid), although some may only require a shorter course with 2 antibiotics for 3 months

Active TB patients may even receive 3 or more antibiotics, such as isoniazid, rifampin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol

It typically takes several weeks of antibiotics for patients to improve, then they are no longer contagious.

Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is a vaccine that is not often used in the U.S., but it is given to infants and small children in other countries where TB is more common. This vaccine is not always effective.

Possible Complications

Mayo Clinic states there are several possible complications of TB, including:

“Spinal pain. Back pain and stiffness are common complications of tuberculosis.

Joint damage. Arthritis that results from tuberculosis (tuberculous arthritis) usually affects the hips and knees.

Swelling of the membranes that cover your brain (meningitis). This can cause a lasting or intermittent headache that occurs for weeks and possible mental changes.

Liver or kidney problems. Your liver and kidneys help filter waste and impurities from your bloodstream. Tuberculosis in these organs can impair their functions.

Heart disorders. Rarely, tuberculosis can infect the tissues that surround your heart, causing inflammation and fluid collections that might interfere with your heart's ability to pump effectively. This condition, called cardiac tamponade, can be fatal.”

Treating Latent Tuberculosis

Robert Koch Day

World TB Day is observed on March 24th. It commemorates Dr. Rober Koch as he discovered the Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is the bacillus that causes TB. It is an opportunity to increase awareness of this potentially lethal disease.

Final Thoughts

While there is ongoing research, TB is still common in several countries. The vaccine prevents many people from TB, but it is not always effective.

We need expanded testing, research and treatment for people with latent TB. Better diagnostics and global partnerships can help eliminate this disease.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 16, 2021:

I absolutely agree, Miebakagh. Anyone who lives in a high risk area should probably get the vaccine. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 16, 2021:

It was a real education for me too. A disease like TB should be treat with the seriousness it deserves.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 15, 2021:

Hi Alyssa,

I was surprised when I learned the number of people around the world who have this disease. It would be wonderful to eradicate this disease.

I am glad you found the article to be informative since you have had some experience in the healthcare field.

I appreciate your comments. Have a wonderful week!

Alyssa from Ohio on August 15, 2021:

I'm incredibly familiar with the TB test as I had to take one every year working in the healthcare field. I have a basic understanding of the disease and I enjoyed reading your informative article. I was surprised to learn how many people around the world have it. I agree, more testing, research, and innovative treatment are needed. It would be wonderful to finally eradicate this!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 15, 2021:

Hi Linda,

TB is a problem in developing and poorer countries. I hope the numbers drop in the future as there is still ongoing research.

Thank you for your comments. Stay safe and healthy!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 15, 2021:

Thank you for sharing this important information, Pamela. I knew that the tuberculosis situation had improved, but I didn't realize that it can still be a major problem. Thank you for the education.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 13, 2021:

Hi MG,

It was a deadly disease when Muhamed Ali Jinnah died and so much more prevalent. I'm glad you liked the article.

I appreciate your comments.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on August 13, 2021:

Thanks a lot, Pamela for a wonderful article with a lot of knowledge. At one time it was a deadly disease and the leader Muhamed Ali Jinnah died of tuberculosis in 1948. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 13, 2021:

Hi Flourish,

TB was more common at that time. Your grandfather's situation is not abnormal. It takes such a long time to cure this disease. I can imagine why you hated getting tested all the time.

Thank you for sharing your experience, and I am glad you liked the article. I always appreciate your comments. Stay safe and healthy!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 13, 2021:

Hi Peggy,

In my nursing career I don't remember anyone with TB. It is much more prevalent in poorer countries.

I am glad you liked the article. I appreciate your comments. Stay safe and healthy!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 13, 2021:

My mother-in-law once had a friend who had TB. Other than that person, I never knew anyone personally who had that disease. It is a wonder with all of the world travelers it is not more prevalent everywhere since it is so highly infectious. Excellent article, Pamela!

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 13, 2021:

In the 1960s my grandfather had TB and spent awhile in a sanitarium for the condition. They didn't think he'd make it, but he eventually did. He had to be tested for years afterwards, as did people he lived with. I recall this because he lived with us many years later and I hated getting tested every six months. Excellent information.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 13, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I agree we hear little about TB is the U.S. It is sure a problem in poorer countries. Hubpages has such a diverse group of authors, I thought this might be a good topic.

I am glad you found the article informative. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 13, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

TB is an awful disease. I have lupus too, and now I have some other complications, but fortunately not TB.

I hope your friend is okay. Fear of the unknown can be almost paralyzing!

I am glad you found the article informative. Thank you for your generous comments.

Stay safe and healthy!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on August 12, 2021:

Pamela

I read this article earlier today & thought certain I conmented.

Tuberculosis is an awful disease.

You went into detail and did a wonderful job.

I had a friend who had Lupus so her immune system was already weak.

She got TB. I remember how scared I was at the time.

Fear of the unknown I guess.

Thanks for sharing.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on August 12, 2021:

Great information Pam. While TB doesn’t seem to be a problem here in this country, it’s sad that that is not the case everywhere. I can’t even recall the last time I heard anything about TB, which I guess is a good thing. Very informative, thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Fran,

I wish the developing countries had more help also. I am glad you liked the article.

Thank you for your comments,

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on August 12, 2021:

Great article Pamela. I wish developing countries had more help for them.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Vidya,

I thought this was an important article to write just because it takes so many lives. Developing countries are sure at risk.

Stopping medication midway will is a bad plan, but I think in some countries it is difficult people can't afford or maybe do not have access to healthcare.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

Blessings.

VIDYA D SAGAR on August 12, 2021:

A very informative article Pamela. The sad part is this disease still takes so many lives in developing countries in spite of vaccinations and medicines to cure it . Sometimes people just neglect it in the early stages. The danger is when they stop medication midway, causing more resistant bacteria to emerge. Spreading awareness is so important especially among the rural people. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

I am glad you found this article too be well explained. TB still takes many lives, although the vaccine will typically prevent this disease.

There still needs to be more research, and I also think we should be further along with the research. Residents of poorer countries are the ones that suffer, which is so sad.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, as they are always appreciated.

Stay safe and healthy!

manatita44 from london on August 12, 2021:

Well researched and presented with lovely charts and videos. Still takes many lives even after so much advancement in medicine. Must be difficult for the poorer countries. An excellent article, Pamela.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Miebakagh,

I am glad you found good information. Thank you for your comments. Stay safe and healthy!

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 12, 2021:

Pamela99, the information is worty. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Linda,

We are fortunate to live in the U.S., as TB is declining in number. We really have no way to know if we have latent TB, and I sure hope research can make some headway. It is the people in the poorer countries that suffer.

I appreciate your comments, as always. Stay safe and healthy!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

Latent TB is a concern, and I surely hope more research will make some headway into the disease.

Thank you for your comments. I pray you stay safe and healthy.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

I am glad you found this article, including videos, to be informative. I want to create awareness about all disease around the globe, as knowledge is power.

Thank you so much for your very nice comments. They are always appreciated. Stay safe and healthy!

Love and blessings!

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on August 12, 2021:

Dear Pamela, Thanks a lot for sharing this very informative and excellent article about tuberculosis. It is very helpful and detailed. The video you shared is also very helpful. Thank you so much for creating awareness about such diseases and treatments. Stay heathy and happy. Have a great day!

Blessings and Love

Rosina S Khan on August 12, 2021:

Thank you, Pamela, for addressing another health concern in this article. I rarely hear of TB now even in our developing part of the world but latent TB is of some concern, I think. So I am glad I read this article. I do hope there's more research and a cure for latent TB.

Thank you for your wonderful and important contribution.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on August 12, 2021:

Very informative article Pamela. I honestly didn't know much about TB, but my Dad had it when he was a young man in his 20's. He was sent away to a TB hospital in Denver. That's all I know. I'm glad we don't hear much about this anymore in the general population, but I think it's a problem in some of the homeless encampments. I live near a major metropolitan area where homelessness is a huge problem.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Shauna,

I also think long term antibiotics are not good for your natural immunity. I hope research will provide some better treatments.

I am glad you found this article to be very informative. Thanks you for your comments. Have a great day!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Umesh,

Thank you so much for reading and your kind comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I think you assumptions about the U.S. are right. It is sad that it is still prevalent in many poorer countries. We have so many friends on Hubpages around the globe that I thought this was an important topic.

I appreciate your comments. Stay heathy and have a great day!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 12, 2021:

This is a very informative article, Pamela. Before reading this, I knew little to nothing about TB. What surprises me is the months-long antibiotic treatment. I am of the understanding that taking antibiotics for long or often throughout your lifetime reduces the natural antibodies in the system and lowers immunity levels.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 12, 2021:

Very informative and well presented.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 12, 2021:

It's odd, but TB is a disease we once heard a great deal about, but now, not so much. Like you said, it is preventable, and I suppose the U.S. has done a great job of lessening its impact in this country...or at least I hope we have, because I rarely hear about it anymore. So sad that isn't the case elsewhere in the world. As always, an excellent article, Pamela!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Ms Dora,

I'm glad you don't hear about TB anymore. I hope that means it is more scare on you island. I am glad you know the facts.

I appreciate your comments, as always. Stay safe and healthy!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 12, 2021:

Thanks for this informative article. This disease used to be of concern in my village, when I was a child. Don't hear talk about it anymore, but it's good to know these facts, especially because of the latent phase. Very helpful.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

It is a very infectious disease, and preventable and treatable when it is caught early. I hope this article does help some people. I didn't realize how many people had this disease until I did the research.

Thank you so much for your very nice comments. I appreciate them

Stay safe and healthy!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on August 12, 2021:

An excellent and informative article about Tuberocolosis!

It is a highly infectious disease, but it is preventable and treatable!

Thank you for sharing the various symptoms and treatments available in the medical field! I am sure this will help many!

Thanks for spreading awareness with another wonderful and well researched article!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 12, 2021:

Hi Liz,

I am glad this article is informative for you and makes sense.

I'm sorry to hear your uncle had TB. I didn't know children were tested for it. It's a shame we are not further along with curing this disease.

Thanks you so much for your comments. Stay safe and healthy!

Liz Westwood from UK on August 12, 2021:

I had an uncle who suffered with TB. This is a fascinating article, which explains TB in an easy to understand format. In some ways it reminds me of COVID. As a teenager I, along with my classmates, was tested for immunity and given the jab if necessary.

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