What You Need to know about Tuberculosis

Every year 24th March is recognized as World Tuberculosis Day in order to educate and create awareness about the various facades of Tuberculosis (TB) and break the myths surrounding it. On the road to eradicating TB, we must all unite and work towards a TB-Free World.

Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death across the globe. It is a contagious disease that is caused by the bacteria, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis that most commonly affects the lungs, although it could affect any other part of the body as well.

There is a considerable lack of awareness among the population about the grave consequences of TB on a person’s health. Despite the fact that TB is a preventable and curable disease, it is still a major cause of death among people these days. There are also various myths and social stigmas attached to the condition, given which people often delay seeking help, hence causing further harm because even if one person in the family develops the condition, he may pose a serious risk to the others.

Some of the most common myths surrounding TB are;

· Myth: TB is hereditary

TB is not hereditary as genetics have no role to play in the transmission or development of TB. The TB bacteria takes time to develop in a person’s body and is caused when one is around people who are already infected with the condition.

· Myth: If someone with TB coughs, I will contract the disease

TB is passed on through coughing, sneezing etc. however it is not spread so easily. One has to be in close contact with an infected person for a considerable amount of time in order to contract the infection.

· Myth: There is only one kind of Tuberculosis

There are actually two types of TB: Pulmonary TB and Extrapulmonary TB. Pulmonary TB is the most common and prevalent form of TB that affects the lungs. However, the condition can affect various other parts of the body including the brain, muscles, bones and lymph nodes. When the bacteria affects other vital organs, the condition is called extrapulmonary TB.

· Myth: Once you are cured of TB, you will not develop it

Even if you have been cured of TB once, you can still develop the infection a second time. Ensure that you complete your course of treatment when diagnosed with the condition.

· Myth: You will always know if you have TB, given its symptoms

The major concern with TB is that it doesn’t manifest in the form of symptoms until the condition has advanced to a severe level. People generally disregard the diagnostic tests for TB during infertility, unaware of the fact that it could actually be the cause of infertility. Someone with TB could either depict symptoms like night sweats, constant coughing of blood, loss of appetite leading to unexplained weight loss etc. while other could experience fewer or no symptoms.

· Myth: Smoking is the leading cause for TB

The main cause for TB is breathing in infected air. Smokers are generally predisposed to developing respiratory infections and diseases, hence putting them at a risk of developing the infection.

· Myth: TB can be prevented

This is partially true, although vaccinations for TB prevention are available and vaccinated individuals believe that they are protected from TB. Vaccinations are preventive measure and will surely help babies from developing any serious condition but the effect does wear out in adults.

· Myth: TB cannot be cured

This is one of the most common myth that people have about TB. TB is definitely curable provided it gets diagnosed at a considerably early stage and the full course of treatment is completed without any hindrances.

· Myth: Every individual with TB is infectious

People suffering from pulmonary TB are infective, however undergoing effective treatment can help reduce the risk of infecting people around. People with infective TB can also use masks to cover their nose and mouth in order to prevent the spread of bacteria.

· Myth: TB is majorly a disease of the underprivileged

TB is an infectious disease that differentiates on no grounds and can be caused in people of all age groups and classes. Some people are definitely more susceptible to developing the condition, but it can be caused in anyone and everyone.

Dr. Sandeep Pargi 

Specialist in Respiratory Medicine 

Aster Hospital, Mankhool