An Introduction To Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. It is caused by infection with the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is spread through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. It is estimated that one-third of the world’s population carries the TB bacterium and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there were 10.4 million new active TB cases in 2019.

Symptoms Of Tuberculosis

Common symptoms of TB include:

  • Coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)
  • Chest pain and shortness of breath
  • Fever, night sweats, chills, loss of appetite, weight loss

Treatment For Tuberculosis

TB is treated with a combination of drugs for a period of at least 6 months. Even if you feel better after a few weeks of treatment, it is important to finish the entire course of medication to prevent the bacteria from becoming resistant to the drugs. Common drug regimens used to treat TB include INH+Rif, Ethionamide, Pyrazinamide, and Streptomycin.

Preventing Tuberculosis

In addition to taking the appropriate medications, people can help prevent TB by:

  • Limiting contact with people who have TB
  • Practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth and nose when you cough
  • Getting regular TB tests if you are at high risk for the disease
  • Getting the TB vaccine if available in your area