Tuberculosis is a disease which is caused by the Koch bacillus germ. It mainly affects the lungs, but other areas that get affected by it include the intestinal tract (which is why the disease is also referred to as intestinal tuberculosis), lymph nodes, kidneys, bones, and even the brain.
Usually, it is said that those who have a strong immune system in their body do not catch tuberculosis. There are preventive injections that help to inactivate the virus and keep it in the lungs by protecting and locking it with a scar tissue called macrophages, that is spread all around the infected area. However, the moment a person's immunity starts to get seriously infected or affected, he or she is prone to catch tuberculosis. This is especially common in patients with HIV who have low immunity. The bacillus under such conditions reactivates and spreads to infect other organs as well, which leads to the severity of the condition.
The most common symptoms of tuberculosis include cough that is persistent and has lasted for more than three weeks, fever, chest pains, loss of appetite and weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, general weakness and tiredness in the body etc. Pregnant women need to be really careful with their immunity as tuberculosis has a chance of being transmitted from the mother to the child. The symptoms of TB then start to appear in the child in the first year itself with breathing problems, fever, feeding problems etc. The disease can also be transmitted from an infectious person to a healthy person via sneezing, coughing, sitting together, or coming in any kind of contact where there are chances of the germs being passed on from one person to another.
Drinking unpasteurised milk can also lead to the transmission of TB. Some years back, TB for this reason was very common among children. However, since we now have pasteurised milk available in the market, which is free from bacteria, there is less incidence of TB among children.
A skin test, wherein an injection of purified protein derived from the TB germ is given to the patient reveals whether a person has TB or not. If a large bump comes up in the injected area after 48 hours, it means that the test is positive and that the person is infected. A thoracic X-ray is also done many times to find out if the person has been affected by tuberculosis.
Usually, patients with TB are hospitalised to avoid them from going out in public and spreading the disease among others. They are kept away from the other patients and a treatment of almost 6 months is done. Any interruption in the treatment can lead to the infection spreading to the other parts of the body and the condition of the patient being worse, which can even lead to death.
Consumption of the drugs and medicines prescribed the doctor should happen properly by TB patients, or else the germ had a tendency to start multiplying. Cleanliness in the area where the person is being treated is a must.