Overview of Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious infection which mainly affects the lungs. It can also affect other parts of the body such as spine or brain. TB is caused by a type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These bacteria can spread from one person to another. It spreads through the air like cold or flu from a person who is sick and when he sneezes, coughs, laughs, etc. it spreads. TB can be treated with the help of different medications available.
Active TB and Latent TB are 2 main types of TB. In case of Active TB, the bacteria present causes different symptoms and can be transmitted to others. In case of Latent TB the bacteria present remain in the body in the inactive state and causes no symptoms, but they can become active anytime.
- A bad Cough that lasts 3 weeks or more
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood or mucus
- Pain with breathing
- Unexpected weight loss
- Sweating at night
- Loss of appetite
Bacteria named Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes TB. Tb is contagious but not that easy to catch. These bacteria can spread from one person to another. It spreads through the air like cold or flu from a person who is sick (whose lungs are affected) and when he sneezes, coughs, laughs, etc. it spreads.
TB is curable with the help of certain antibiotics, but its course should be completed as prescribed by the doctor.
The doctors will diagnose TB with the help of following tests:
- Blood test: Blood test helps to detect latent and active tuberculosis. This test uses a special technique for measuring your immune system’s reaction to TB bacteria. It includes QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube test and T-Spot TB test. Both of these blood tests are very helpful in the diagnosis of TB.
- Imaging test: Imaging tests help to reveal any changes that occurred in your lungs because of active tuberculosis. It includes CT scan and X-ray. CT scan provides more detailed images as compared to X-rays.
- Skin test: Skin test was the most commonly used diagnostic tool for tuberculosis. But now Blood tests are becoming more common because of the false results of the skin test. Skin tests aren’t perfect, it usually shows false and negative results.
- Sputum test: Sputum is the mucus that comes up while coughing. Doctors will take a sample of your sputum and culture it. It takes 1-3 weeks to detect any growth in culture but the whole test takes 8-12 weeks to complete.
- Eat balanced and healthy diet to keep your body as healthy as possible.
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Take plenty of rest
- Getting vaccinated will protect you against bacteria that cause tuberculosis.
- Finish your entire course of medication.
- Wear a surgical mask
- Don’t use public transportation.
- Exercise regularly and keep your immune system strong.
- Don’t visit other people and don’t even invite them to visit you.
- Don’t go to work or school or other public places.
- Wash your hands regularly, especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Cover your mouth while coughing, sneezing or even laughing.
- Ventilate the room with open windows or fan.
- Avoid sharing glasses/utensils.
- Stay away from individuals suffering from cold or flu.
Garlic has antibacterial properties and contains sulfur. It improves the immune system of the body. Garlic contains ajoene and allicin, both helps to inhibit the bacterial growth.
- Add 10 chopped garlic cloves to a cup of boiling milk. Then eat the boiled pieces of garlic and drink the milk. Drink it daily for few days.
- Boil 4 cups of water with 1 cup of milk. Add ½ tsp of chopped garlic in it. Let it boil and reduce the drink to one fourth. Drink it twice or thrice daily for few days.
2. Indian Gooseberry
Indian gooseberry is also known as Amla. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and rich in Vitamin C. It improves the immune system of the body. Amla helps in flushing out the bacteria and also ensures cure from TB.
- Extract the juice from 3 gooseberries after discarding the seeds. Add 1 tsp of honey to it. Consume it daily on empty stomach.
- You can also get amla juice from the market. Add 30 ml of amla juice to a glass of water, add 1 tsp of honey in it. Drink it daily on empty stomach.
Bananas are a rich source of calcium and nutrients. It helps to boost the immune system of TB patient. Fever and cough caused during TB can be reduced with the help of bananas.
- Mix 1 cup coconut water, ½ cup yogurt, 1 mashed ripe banana and 1 tsp of honey. Blend it and drink it twice daily.
- Make a juice of raw bananas and drink 1 glass of it daily.
4. Black pepper
Black pepper has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces pain, inflammation, and congestion during TB. It is very effective in cleansing the lungs.
- Fry 10-12 peppercorns in 1 tsp of clarified butter along with ¼ tsp of asafetida. Then, Cool the mixture, blend it well and consume 1 tsp of this mixture thrice daily.
Walnuts are rich in minerals and vitamins. It boosts the immune system and provides strength to TB patients.
- Walnuts can be consumed as it is to get the benefit.
- Mix 1 tsp of fresh garlic paste, 2 tsp of walnut powder and 1 tsp of clarified butter. Eat it daily for few days to get relief from TB.
Treatment of TB depends on the type of TB infection. Generally, With the help of proper treatment, TB can always be curable. Doctors always prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria that caused TB and should be taken for about 6-9 months. But in few cases, antibiotics don’t work and doctors call it drug-resistant TB. Drug-resistant TB takes a longer time to get cured.
Treatment for Latent TB
There are 3 treatment options:
- Isoniazid (INH): Take this antibiotic daily for 9 months
- Rifampin: Take this antibiotic daily for 4months
- Rifapentine and Isoniazid: Take both of these antibiotics once a week for 3 months
For the treatment doctors may prescribe any one of the above medicines. Always take these medicines under doctor’s supervision and complete the course.
Treatment for Active TB
There are 4 medicines used in most of the cases to treat Active TB, it includes:
- Ethambutol (Myambutol)
In case of active TB, doctors prescribe a combination of antibiotics or several antibiotics for the treatment and should be taken for about 6-9 months. Always take these medicines under doctor’s supervision and complete the course.
Treatment for Drug-resistant TB
In the case of drug-resistant TB, even several types of medications don’t work and doctors call it multidrug-resistant Tb (MDR TB). Patients will have to take the medicine for 20-30 months continuously. It includes:
- Antibiotics named fluoroquinolones
- Injectable antibiotics such as kanamycin, amikacin, and capreomycin
- Few other new antibiotics such as Bedaquiline and Linezolid
Always take these medicines under doctor’s supervision and complete the course.
Is Tuberculosis (TB) contagious?
Yes, TB is a contagious disease.
What are the symptoms of Latent TB infection?
Patients will latent TB infection may not show any symptom. Also, latent infections are not contagious. Such cases of infection are diagnosed only by TB Blood or Skin test.