Tuberculosis – What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments!

Tuberculosis – What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments for this disease that is so dangerous. In addition, Tuberculosis is a contagious  infectious disease transmitted through the bacterium Mycobacterium Tuberculosis or Bacillus of Koch (BK).

Tuberculosis is considered by the Health Department to be an extremely contagious disease  , because in most cases, it is transmitted through the airways through the inhalation of contaminated particles through the cough , speech or sneeze of the patient with  Tuberculosis .

The Ministry of Health states that Tuberculosis is a serious public health  issue in Brazil, arising from various social problems. According to the Health Portal 70 thousand cases of tuberculosis are reported each year and there are 4.6 thousand deaths due to tuberculosis . According to data from the Ministry of Health, Brazil is in 17th place among a ranking of 22 countries responsible for 80% of all tuberculosis cases worldwide.

The same study showed a 38.7% decrease in the incidence of Tuberculosis and a 33.6% decrease in the mortality rate. After several campaigns and efforts to fight against Tuberculosis , each year the Ministry of Health observes a drop in the occurrence of the disease  that in the future can be controlled, no longer being a case of public health  .

The Ministry of Health considers Tuberculosis a disease  derived from various social conditions. It is clear that the compromised immune system can lead to contagion, however, in most cases, Tuberculosis comes from lack of basic sanitation, drinking water, personal hygiene, vaccines, among other factors related to people’s living conditions. The following table demonstrates the risk of infection by Tuberculosis in certain populations, compared to the standard population.

Causes of Tuberculosis: Tuberculosis disease  is caused  by a bacterium (Mycobacterium Tuberculosis) that spreads through the air when infected people cough or sneeze. Tuberculosis  most often  affects the lungs, but it can infect any part of the body , including the bones and nervous system.

Most people exposed to TB never develop symptoms, as the bacteria can live in an inactive form within the body . However, if the immune system weakens, as in malnourished, HIV -positive or elderly people, the TB bacteria can become active. About 10% of people infected with the bacteria will develop the active, contagious form of the disease  at some point in their lives.

Symptoms of Tuberculosis: Symptoms ofPulmonary Tuberculosis can be:

  • Persistent  dry cough for more than 21 days;
  • Coughing up  blood or  pus after this period;
  • slimming;
  • Tiredness;
  • loss of appetite;
  • Chest  pain;
  • Breathing difficulty;
  • Fever  at the end of the day;
  • Night sweats to the point of needing to change clothes.

Symptoms of Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis can be:

  • slimming;
  • Tiredness;
  • Apathy;
  • fever ;
  • night sweat;
  • Prostration;
  • Loss of appetite.

Diagnosis:  The diagnosis is made by the person’s history of illness and also by clinical examination. It should be confirmed by specific tests, as in the case of bacilloscopy and sputum culture and also by chest X-ray. Other tests, such as a biopsy, may be needed, depending on the organ affected.

Tuberculosis Transmission: Tuberculosis is  transmittedthrough the air, from person to person through the inspiration of infected droplets released through coughing, sneezing or talking. The individual can only transmit tuberculosis if he develops pulmonary tuberculosis and he stops transmitting the disease  after 15 days of treatment. Individuals most likely to suffer from Tuberculosis are those who fall under the following conditions:

  • HIV carriers .
  • diabetics.
  • Chronic renal failure.
  • malnourished.
  • Seniors.
  • Drug users.
  • smokers.

The prevention of the most serious forms of Tuberculosis can be done with the BCG vaccine in childhood. In addition, it is recommended to avoid closed, poorly ventilated places with little or no sun exposure, but it is essential to keep away from individuals diagnosed with Tuberculosis .

Prevention:  The main form of prevention againstTuberculosisis the BCG vaccine, which should be administered to children in the first month of life. The vaccine is effective in decreasing the chance of developing severe stages of thedisease, eg tuberculous meningitis, and it prevents against other forms of the disease, but it does not prevent againsttuberculosis.

Even with the application of the vaccine in the correct period, the individual can contract the disease , if his immune system is compromised. Therefore, the best form of prevention remains to discover the disease  in its initial stage and carry out the appropriate treatment.

With efforts to ensure that the majority of the population has basic sanitation and access to decent hygiene conditions, Tuberculosis can be controlled in the future, along with the BCG vaccine. It is important to watch out for children who show symptoms, even if they were vaccinated as babies.

Treatments:  Patients who present symptoms of Tuberculosis are treated with a course of antibiotics for at least 6 months. The main regimen is called RIPE – Rifampicin, Isoniazid, Pyrazinamide and Ethambutol for 2 months, followed by another 4 months of rifampicin and isoniazid.

There is already a drug being distributed free of charge by the Ministry of Health called Coxcip 4, which is a single pill that contains a combination of the 4 drugs against tuberculosis : rifampicin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide and ethambutol. In the first two months of treatment this is the only medication needed. For the next 4 months, the patient is given separate isoniazid and rifampicin tablets.

The treatment of latent forms, that is, asymptomatic patients, but with positive PPD, is done only with isoniazid, also for a period of 6 months. The big problem of tuberculosis control is the abandonment before the end of 6 months.

As symptoms improve in a short time and side effects are common, many patients do not complete the full treatment time, favoring the emergence of multidrug-resistant strains of Koch’s bacillus.

Patients stop transmitting TB after approximately 15 days of treatment. However, they can return to being bacilliferous (transmitters of the bacillus) if they do not complete the 6-month course of antibiotics. Untreated tuberculosis can lead to severe sepsis and death.

Recommendations for Tuberculosis:  Do not stop using the medication before the scheduled time. If you start taking the drugs and stop halfway, you will surely select a colony of drug-resistant bacteria and it will be harder to be cured;

  • Remember that malnutrition, alcoholism, use of illicit drugs and immunosuppressive medication increase the risk of contracting the disease ;
  • Relatives and people close to those infected must maintain certain basic precautions in order to avoid the risk of contagion during the initial phase of the disease ;
  • Carriers of the HIV virus  and diseases  such as diabetes , for example, can develop severe forms of Tuberculosis . Therefore, they must be kept under constant medical observation;
  • Take your child for the BCG TB vaccine . If you haven’t been vaccinated, at age five you should have the Mantoux test, or PPD. If there is no reaction, you should be vaccinated at any age.

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