For many people, the disease tuberculosis (TB) is still a condition of the past. But, tuberculosis is still one of the leading killers of young adults all across the world. According to an estimate, about 2 billion people – 1/3rd of the world’s population – are infected with this condition.
It is basically a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial infection and it spreads through the air and generally targets the lungs, although other organs can also be involved such as bones and intestines. Most of the people suffering from M. tuberculosis hold the bacterium without having any signs and symptoms but many develop active tuberculosis condition. Every year, approximately eight million people in the world develop active tuberculosis and out of them, three million die.
It is between 2-8 weeks after being infected with Mycobacterium a person’s immune system reacts to the tuberculosis germs by walling off the infected cells. From then onwards the body keeps a standoff with tuberculosis, sometimes even for years. Most of the people can have a complete healing of their primary stage, and the bacteria eventually vanish off.
A positive tuberculosis skin test, and old scars seen on a chest X-Ray, might provide the only ground of the bacterial infection. With appropriate antibiotics’ treatment, tuberculosis is curable in more than 9 out of 10 patients. Tuberculosis is considered to be an airborne disease, the disease that spreads from person to person in tiny microscopic droplets whenever a person suffering from tuberculosis coughs, sneezes, utters, sings, or even laughs. Only people with active disease are communicable. It generally takes lengthy procedure with someone having active tuberculosis before someone can get infected.
On an average, people have about 50% risks of becoming infected with Mycobacterium if they spend 8 hr a day for about 6 months or 24 hr a day for 2 months working or living with someone having active tuberculosis. Successful tuberculosis treatment is based on close cooperation that the patient and doctor and other health care providers have with each other. Tuberculosis treatment generally combines several different antibiotic drugs that are given for at least 6 months, sometimes for as long as one year.
Patients should take their medicine on time on daily basis for the entire prescribed period; however, some tuberculosis patients give up taking their prescribed medicines since they start feeling better after only a couple of weeks of treatment – this is wrong and dangerous. Another reason they might give up medications is because tuberculosis drugs can have unwanted side effects.