Tuberculosis-symptoms, types, causes and diagnosis

Tuberculosis, also known as TB, is a highly contagious airborne single bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, affecting millions of people across the globe every year. It is one of the leading causes of premature death around the world. Tuberculosis is a droplet infection spread from person to person through the inhalation of infectious droplets nuclei discharged into the air while coughing and sneezing by the infected person.

Tuberculosis mainly affects the lung causing pulmonary tuberculosis. It also affects body parts such as endocrine glands, bones, nervous system and abdomen. It is highly prevalent in low- and middle-income countries that are impoverished with poor socioeconomic standards. However, it can be effectively treated by early diagnosis and timely initiation of treatment with anti-tubercular medications. Moreover, immunization with the BCG vaccine at an early age will provide lifelong immunity against tuberculosis and is the best method for tuberculosis prevention.

What are the signs and symptoms of Tuberculosis?
The onset of tuberculosis symptoms is gradual and slow in progression. Upon infection by the tubercle bacteria, the patient develops the following symptoms:
● A persistent productive cough that lasts for more than three months
● Weight loss
● Night sweats
● Chest pain
● Fever
● Blood in cough
● Loss of appetite
● Fatigue

How is Tuberculosis diagnosed?
A preliminary tuberculosis examination is done by obtaining the patient's medical history, chest X-ray, and physical examination. Besides, laboratory tests such as the Mantoux tuberculin test or tuberculin skin test (TST) and sputum smear test are used to confirm active tuberculosis infection. TST is a blood test that assesses the immunological response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. It is carried out by injecting a substance known as tuberculin into the lower arm to observe the reaction.