Disseminated tuberculosis

What is Disseminated Tuberculosis?

Disseminated tuberculosis (TB) is an infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It occurs when the bacteria spread in the bloodstream and infect multiple organs, such as the lungs, liver, spleen, and bones. This is a more severe form of TB than the usual pulmonary form, which only affects the lungs. Disseminated TB is also known as miliary TB because the infected organs appear as tiny white spots throughout the body, like millet seeds.

Signs and Symptoms of Disseminated Tuberculosis

The signs and symptoms of disseminated TB vary depending on where the infection is located in the body. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lymph node swelling
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness and swelling

Risk Factors for Disseminated Tuberculosis

The risk for developing disseminated TB increases if a person:

  • Is HIV-positive or has a weakened immune system due to other illnesses
  • Has recently been in contact with someone with active TB
  • Has a poor diet
  • Is a child, as younger bodies are more susceptible to infection
  • Has poor access to healthcare
  • Travels to areas with a high rate of TB

Diagnosis of Disseminated Tuberculosis

If a doctor suspects disseminated TB, they will take a medical history and ask questions about the person’s recent contact with other people who may have had TB. The doctor may also perform a physical exam to check for swollen lymph nodes or other signs of infection.

To confirm the diagnosis, tests such as chest X-rays, sputum tests, blood tests, and urine tests may be done. A doctor may also order a biopsy, which is a tissue sample taken from the affected area. The biopsy can confirm the presence of TB bacteria in the body.

Treatment of Disseminated Tuberculosis

Treatment for disseminated TB usually includes a combination of antibiotics and medications to reduce inflammation. Treatment usually lasts at least six months. It’s important to take medications as prescribed and for the full prescribed length of time. This can help prevent the spread of the infection and prevent the development of drug-resistant strains of TB.

During treatment, people may need to be monitored closely so that changes in their health can be detected early. After finishing the course of treatment, it’s important to continue regular medical check-ups.

Prevention of Disseminated Tuberculosis

The most effective way to prevent the spread of disseminated TB is for people to get tested and treated for TB. If a person is diagnosed early and receives treatment, the risk of developing disseminated TB is greatly reduced.

It’s also important for people to take preventive measures to avoid exposure to TB. This includes avoiding close contact with people who have active TB, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing, and washing the hands regularly. Vaccines are available to help protect against TB, which can be given to people who are at an increased risk of infection.