HomeDiseaseTuberculosisWhat Is Tuberculosis - TB?

What Is Tuberculosis – TB?

Tuberculosis (or TB) is an infection that may spread from person to person, especially with close and constant contact. It may affect any part of the body but tends to affect the lungs most often. However, bones, kidneys, glands, and the occasional tissue around the brain may be affected as well.

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Why Be Aware of TB?

In days gone past, about 50% of all persons afflicted with TB died – however, with modern medicine the incidence of TB has dropped dramatically. The risk of TB starting and spreading within our population is stil present and therefore we must work to keep this disease under control.

What Does TB Do?

TB is caused by bacteria, mycobacterium tuberculate that a person takes into their body usually through the lungs. This bacteria congregate and reproduces within the lungs and may:

  • start destroying the lungs
  • spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body
  • be unable to counter the body’s defense and remain dormant for many years before suddenly reactivating

What Are The Symptoms of Tuberculosis?

TB can manifest as a general feeling of unwellness but this may be easily confused with much other illness. Generally, the following can be seen:

  • loss of weight
  • a general feeling of tiredness (malaise) throughout the day
  • night sweats
  • coughing for days on end, usually more than 3 weeks – this is usually accompanied by a thick spit (called phlegm). Sometimes blood is seen.

How Is The TB (Tuberculosis) Treated?

TB can almost always be cured with medicine, but the medicine must be taken as prescribed, without missing any doses. The most common drugs used to fight TB are:

  • Isoniazid (INH)
  • Rifampin
  • Pyrazinamide
  • Ethambutol
  • Streptomycin

You will probably need to take a combination of drugs as there are many bacteria to be killed. Taking several drugs will do a better job of killing all of the bacteria and preventing them from becoming resistant to the drugs. If you have TB of the lungs or throat, you are probably infectious. Staying home from work or school is essential so that TB bacteria isn’t spread to other people. Having TB should not stop you from leading a normal life as treatment is usually effective. B. The medicine that you are taking should not affect your strength, sexual function, or ability to work – and you should be able to do all the things you used to do.

Preventing The Spread of TB

As TB is quite an infectious disease, it is essential that any cases are treated early and the spread of the disease prevented. Seek treatment for TB immediately as the disease is easily cured in its early stages, all workmates and members of the family should be tested for TB to prevent it from spreading and in some cases, babies and people at risk (e.g immuno-compromised individuals) can be immunized.

Drug Resistance and TB

Multi Drug-Resistant TB (MDR-TB) is resistance to at least 2 of the main first line drugs. It is on the rise. Bacteria become resistant to drugs for a number of reasons. Medication may not be taken correctly, or patients may stop taking medication as soon as the symptoms disappear but before the course is finished. MDR-TB is also then transmitted to others, which exacerbates the problem.

The WHO has stressed the importance of the DOTS strategy to ensure patients complete their course of treatment and avoid further spread of the disease.

Of even greater concern is the emergence of XDR-TB (extensive drug-resistant TB), which is MDR-TB with additional resistance to 3 or more of the second-line treatments.

Resources (Links)

Stop TB
Target TB is a member of the Stop TB Partnership, a global coalition of individuals and organizations committed to a TB-free world.

Global Plan to Stop TB
Target TB’s work is aligned with the 2nd Global Plan to Stop TB, which sets out the actions and resources needed to Stop TB.

World Health Organization (WHO)
For factsheets about TB and country specific information about the global TB epidemic please visit the WHO website.

International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD)
Target TB and its partners are members of the IUATLD.

All Party arliamentary Group (APPG)  

The APPG on Global TB was established in 2006 in response to cross-party concern for the growing scale and impact of the TB epidemic and to reinforce the UK’s commitment to halting and reversing the incidence of TB worldwide.

UN Millennium Development Goals
Our work contributes to four of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

International HIV/AIDS Alliance
A global partnership of over 36 nationally-based linking organizations working to support community action on AIDS in developing countries.


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Written by Dr. Ozair (CEO of SignSymptom.com) as physician writers are physicians who write creatively in fields outside their practice of medicine.

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