Tuberculosis symptoms and treatment. Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the tubercle bacteria. TB is contagious and is spread through the air. Tubercle bacteria can cause serious infections throughout the body. Usually, the disease occurs in the lungs. Without treatment, the disease can be fatal.
Tuberculosis occurs mainly in poor, less developed countries, but also there are many new tuberculosis patients worldwide every year. Worldwide there are 9 million. In 2009 1.7 million people died of tuberculosis. An important problem in the treatment of tuberculosis is the increasing resistance of the bacteria to antibiotics. Let’s see what are the Tuberculosis symptoms and treatment.
Someone can be infected with tubercle bacteria without any symptoms. Only 1 in 10 infected people actually develop tuberculosis. Complaints that may occur are coughing (sometimes with blood), weight loss, fever, night sweats, and loss of appetite. Tuberculosis usually occurs in the lungs. Sometimes in other organs, in which case, there may also be other complaints. Without treatment, tuberculosis can become increasingly serious and can lead to death.
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How does tuberculosis arise?
Tuberculosis is caused by contamination with the tubercle bacteria. These bacilli are spread in the air by patients with so-called open TB. These are patients with pulmonary tuberculosis. They can spread the bacilli by coughing. Inhalation of the bacillus takes place.
The bacillus can lodge in the lungs. From there, the bacillus can multiply and spread throughout the body. Only 10% of the people who are infected actually get sick. The duration from infection to the onset of complaints can be weeks to years.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
Tuberculosis is a serious disease. Several things can happen after being infected with the bacillus. The immune system can kill the bacteria and no further tuberculosis symptoms develop. This usually happens. It may also happen that the immune system cannot kill the bacteria, but it builds a good defense barrier around the infection. The bacteria remain in the body, but no infection develops.
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In the third case, the bacteria are not killed and no barrier is built up. The bacteria then slowly spread through the lungs and possibly further into the body. Without treatment, the disease can end fatally. Treatment is with long courses of antibiotics (at least 6 months).
If your doctor suspects tuberculosis, further investigation will be done. This can be done with a mantoux test, which can detect an infection. Blood tests are also done and X-rays are taken of the lungs. The bacteria can also be grown in the sputum or possibly other tissue. If there is contagious tuberculosis, the tuberculosis department of the GGD conducts a contact investigation. The goal is to detect infected contacts as early as possible. This prevents the further spread of tuberculosis.
When to go to the doctor?
Go to the doctor if you recognize yourself in the tuberculosis symptoms. This mainly concerns persistent coughing, weight loss, and night sweats. Even if you have been in contact with people with open tuberculosis, further investigation is recommended. For travelers from high-risk countries who have had close contact with the local population or who have traveled for more than three months, it is also advisable to investigate tuberculosis.
What can you do about it yourself?
If you have tuberculosis, it is important to follow the advice of the treatment providers. Take your medicines on time and as prescribed. Also, swallow when the complaints have disappeared. A good general condition is also important, take sufficient rest, and ensure a healthy diet. Limit the use of alcohol.
General advice and precautions for tuberculosis
There is a high chance of becoming infected with tuberculosis in poor, often tropical, countries. Therefore, before traveling, visit a recognized vaccination center for advice on this. An important precaution is to avoid risky contacts. Risk contacts are mainly in places where many local people are together (buses, markets). Avoid coughing in your face.
It is possible to have a Mantoux set before the trip. This test can show infection with tuberculosis. The result of the test before the journey is a baseline measure. This is usually negative. After the trip, the test must be repeated. A positive result after the trip indicates contamination. Further research must then take place. There is also a vaccine against tuberculosis, the so-called BCG vaccine. This vaccine protects 80% of the vaccinees. This vaccination is given by the tuberculosis department of the GGD.
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