Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that can be deadly if left untreated. Did you know that over 10 million cases of TB are reported every year in the world? The deadly disease is also spreading at a rapid rate in India, with more than 2 million cases and 450,000 deaths every year. So, it is vital to raise awareness about the disease and know what it is. From the causes of tuberculosis to prevention tips, here is everything you need to know about the disease.
Due to the stigma attached to the disease and lack of awareness, people tend to ignore the signs and symptoms of the disease. To raise awareness about the disease, Health Shots reached out to Dr Sandeep Nayar, Senior Director and HOD- Centre for Chest & Respiratory Diseases, BLK Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi.
Is tuberculosis contagious?
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It affects the lungs, but the effects are not limited to this organ. TB can affect any part of the body such as your kidneys, brain and more, as per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If left untreated, it can lead to lethal consequences.
Dr Nayar shares that TB is contagious. “Though it can affect any organ of the body, it primarily affects the lungs and respiratory system. TB can spread through a cough or sneeze of the infected person (airborne transmission), and it can be transmitted from an infected person to an uninfected person.
TB is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which spreads through the air and primarily affects the lungs and, in some cases, spreads to other parts of the body as well, he adds.
Signs and symptoms of tuberculosis
The signs and symptoms of TB depend on the part of the body where the bacterium has attacked, but some of the common symptoms of TB are the following, as per the expert:
- Coughing, often with sputum and blood
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
The severity of these symptoms can significantly hinder an individual’s quality of life and ability to perform daily activities.
Risk factors of tuberculosis
Some people infected with the tuberculosis bacterium may develop the disease immediately or within weeks. On the other hand, some people may get sick years later when their immune system becomes weak after another underlying reason. As per the expert, the following can increase your risk:
- Air pollution
- People with a weak immune system
- Low BMI
- People with HIV
- Close contact with a TB-infected person
Furthermore, overcrowding, poor ventilation, and inadequate healthcare access contribute to the spread and prevalence of TB.
The best way to prevent TB is to get diagnosed and treated early. The methods include keeping your immune system healthy and avoiding contact with those who have active TB, improving indoor ventilation, maintaining self-hygiene, wearing masks when necessary, and leading a healthy lifestyle – eating healthy and exercising regularly, which will help in keeping your immunity strong, advises Dr Nayar.