Table of contents:
- What is tuberculosis?
- How and where can you get TB?
- If there are so many sick people around, am I sure to get infected?
- Who is at risk?
- How to suspect tuberculosis?
- How to protect yourself from tuberculosis?
- Will vaccination help?
- And why then Mantoux test?
- What to do if you find tuberculosis?
2023 Author: Malcolm Clapton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 06:26
Tuberculosis today is not as terrible as in the past, when people died from consumption regardless of their financial situation and age. But despite all the medical advances, it's easy to miss, hard to lose, and impossible to forget.
What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is an airborne infection. Most often, it affects the lungs, but it can also attack other organs: bones, skin, intestines. The bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis are to blame for the disease. They provoke specific inflammation, due to which nodules (granulomas) and foci of necrosis (that is, necrotic tissue) are formed in the tissues. Because of them, the organs cannot function normally, and the body reacts with general intoxication.
If the disease does not stop the immune system or drugs in time, then the person may die. Tuberculosis is one of the ten most common causes of death worldwide.
How and where can you get TB?
The main source of infection is sick people, although there is a possibility of catching tuberculosis from animals.
The more patients around, the higher the chance of meeting the bacteria. Unfortunately, many people in Russia are ill. In 2015, 84,500 people were found to have active tuberculosis for the first time. The total number of tuberculosis cases is more than 130 thousand.
You can deal with sick people, especially in a large city, several times a day.
Most patients suffer from a closed form, when bacteria infect the body, but are not released into the environment.
But the open form of tuberculosis is much more dangerous for others (and for the patients themselves), so it needs to be treated in a hospital. Long-term contact with patients with open form of tuberculosis is a huge risk.
The most likely to become infected is in cold, damp rooms, where people live in crowded places, eat poorly and do not follow hygiene. And these are not only prisons, a city apartment also falls under this description.
If there are so many sick people around, am I sure to get infected?
No. But even infection is not a disease yet. According to the WHO, every third person in the world is a carrier of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but microbes do not manifest themselves in any way. The chances of getting sick with an active form of tuberculosis, if the bacterium already lives in the body, is 10%.
Who is at risk?
Everyone who lives in poor conditions and who has weakened immunity. Under such conditions, tuberculosis from the latent form becomes active. At risk are:
- Relatives of patients with open tuberculosis. The reason is frequent contact with bacteria.
- Children, the elderly, people with chronic diseases. Their immunity may not be strong enough to suppress the development of the disease.
- HIV-infected people. They develop an active form of the disease 20-30 times more often than people with intact immunity.
Tuberculosis is common in developing countries. Where there is a lack of adequate nutrition and where in general they do not think about a healthy lifestyle.
Adequate food and sports can even help fight off tuberculosis.
How to suspect tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is difficult to diagnose because in its early stages it can be easily confused with any other respiratory disease. Especially with bronchitis.
Early signs of tuberculosis:
- Slight fever when the temperature rises to 37–37.5 ° C.
- Weakness, rapid fatigability: literally no strength for anything.
- Weight loss. The patient loses weight due to lack of appetite or for no apparent reason. In children, the symptom of tuberculosis is growth retardation.
- Intense perspiration, especially at night.
- Chest pain.
- A cough that does not go away for several weeks. When the disease progresses, blood is visible in the sputum.
Tuberculosis symptoms develop gradually, and not all of them are necessarily present. Therefore, children need to do the Mantoux test, and adults - to undergo fluorography. This allows the disease to be detected even if it has not manifested itself.
How to protect yourself from tuberculosis?
There are two methods to protect against infections:
- Non-specific is one that helps in the prevention of any infection. Healthy lifestyle, usual hygiene rules, good living conditions. Truths about washing your hands as soon as you come home, ventilating rooms, doing exercises and keeping yourself in shape.
- Specific is one that is aimed at preventing a specific disease. For example, vaccination.
Will vaccination help?
Not 100%. There is a BCG vaccine for tuberculosis. It does not protect against infection, but it helps to withstand difficult cases. In particular, it prevents tuberculous meningitis from developing. But in the fight against tuberculosis, cellular immunity is important, which vaccination cannot provide.
The BCG vaccine helps not to get sick with the most severe forms and to avoid complications.
This is very important because it is not always possible to cure tuberculosis before complications develop. In 2015, almost half a million people in the world fell ill with tuberculosis, which many well-known drugs do not work for. And their number will only grow along with the growth of bacterial resistance. With this perspective, vaccination is one of the best ways to protect against severe cases.
And why then Mantoux test?
The Mantoux reaction is a test that shows whether there is a tuberculosis pathogen in the body, and if there is, it sits quietly or destroys the carrier.
The point of the test is to inject tuberculin (a mixture of substances from bacteria) into the skin and see how the body will react to it. Depending on the size of the papule (tubercle) at the injection site, a conclusion is made about the danger.
Even a pronounced reaction to the test is not a diagnosis, but a reason for further examination.
To get a diagnosis, you need to undergo X-ray or computed tomography (the latter is more precise), tests to identify bacteria, and so on.
This is already the concern of the doctor.
What to do if you find tuberculosis?
To be treated, of course, because tuberculosis has not been a death sentence for a long time. Read the memo and be sure to tell your loved ones about the disease. Because now you are the source of the disease, you can infect other people. And it may well be that someone from your close circle has tuberculosis, but so far the person has not paid attention to the symptoms. The more friends and family who remember the last time they were tested, the greater the chance that someone will be diagnosed with the disease in the early stages. And this is always better than finding it in a neglected form.