Tuberculosis is a chronic disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. Most often, these mycobacteria strike respiratory organs. However, the disease may affect bones and joints, urogenital organs, eyes, peripheral lymph nodes. Diagnosing of tuberculosis includes a tuberculin test, lungs X-ray, detection of the bacteria in sputum, and instrumental examination of the organs affected by tuberculosis. Treatment for tuberculosis is a complex and long-term systemic therapy that includes antibiotics administration. Surgical treatment can be indicated for certain medical cases.
What causes tuberculosis
The disease develops when a human body gets infected with the mycobacteria or bacillus Koch (tubercule bacillus). These microorganisms are resistant to external environmental factors and high-temperature. They can also survive in severe cold conditions. Koch’s bacillus is not considered to be a highly contagious infectious agent. A healthy person is very unlikely to catch the disease even after contacting a patient with an open form of tuberculosis.
The disease is passed on by airborne transmission. The agent can enter a body through respiratory organs. Once it gets in, the human immune system starts to fight the pathogenic bacteria, preventing their spreading and development. For a healthy body, the microorganisms are not very dangerous. The disease may develop in two cases. Firstly, when the immune system is weak, and antibodies production is interrupted due to some disturbances in the body. Secondly, when the contact with an infected person occurs continuously, while the patient does not treat the infection. This can happen, when one of the family members falls ill. It this case, beside treating the disease in the patient, other members have to pay special attention to their own health. Proper hygiene maintenance has to be provided. It is recommended to take measures to strengthen the immunity of all the family members, as well as undergo regular health check-ups and the Mantoux test.
How to detect tuberculosis
As a rule, tuberculosis symptoms appear gradually. For quite a long period, the pathogen spreads and multiplies (mostly in the lungs) without any manifestations. This is the primary stage of tuberculosis. After that, a latent stage of the disease begins, that may be accompanied by the following conditions:
- general deterioration of health;
- fatigue, loss of strength, irritability;
- weight loss;
- excessive sweating at night.
Cough and high body temperature are not typical for early stages of the disease. These symptoms are noted on a later stage.
After the latent form, tuberculosis can transform into a closed one, when the disease develops in the body, but its pathogens are not released into the environment. In the meantime, if the patient develops an open (active) form, the infections agents can be passed on to other people. This form is the most dangerous for the patient, since it causes serious health damage in the body. The most severe untreated cases may lead to mortality.