Latent and Active Tuberculosis
Many people are carriers of the bacteria, but their bodyís defense system is strong enough to prevent them from getting sick and displaying the symptoms of the disease. Thus, doctors differentiate patients according to two forms:
‚óŹ†††† Latent TB – This is the inactive form of the disease and the person having it is not contagious. However, at some time, the disease could become active and the carrier could begin to show symptoms. Hence, it is essential to treat it when detected.
‚óŹ†††† Active TB – Active TB can develop immediately after exposure to the germs or even years afterwards. Patients with active TB can pass it on to the people around them.
Effects of Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis typically affects the lungs, but patients can also develop it in their stomach, bones, kidneys, and sometimes genitals. The bacteria travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body because of which the patient can develop other conditions such as;
‚óŹ†††† Problems in the kidneys and liver
‚óŹ†††† Mental problems and severe headaches because of swelling in the membrane that covers the brain, a form of meningitis
‚óŹ†††† Problems with the hips and knees caused by Tuberculous arthritis
‚óŹ†††† Back pain and stiffness
‚óŹ†††† In rare cases, if the disease affects the heart muscles, fluid collects in the tissues surrounding the heart and there might also be inflammation. This can interfere with the heartís ability to pump blood efficiently.
Symptoms of Tuberculosis
Several symptoms can indicate a person could have TB. They are:
‚óŹ†††† Hacking coughs that last for more than 3 weeks along with pain in the chest
‚óŹ†††† Coughing up blood and/or sputum
‚óŹ†††† Lack of appetite
‚óŹ†††† Fever with chills
‚óŹ†††† Nocturnal sweating
‚óŹ†††† Weakness and/or fatigue
‚óŹ†††† Unexplained weight loss
Tests to Detect Tuberculosis
Several tests can help doctors detect the presence of the TB germs:
‚óŹ†††† PPD tuberculin skin test (This test is not always accurate)
‚óŹ†††† Blood test such as QuantiFERON-TB Gold in-Tube test and T-Spot TB test
‚óŹ†††† GeneExpert test
‚óŹ†††† Chest X-ray and CT scans (These tests can reveal white spots where the immune system has reacted to the bacteria. They can also show any changes in the lungs caused by the effects of the disease.)
‚óŹ†††† Sputum test (This test is typically conducted when the X-ray shows indications of TB. It can help detect drug-resistant form of TB.)
Methods How Tuberculosis Spreads
This disease is typically spread from one person to another through minute droplets in the air. Any person coming in contact with a patient who is speaking, laughing, singing, sneezing, spitting, or coughing can get infected. Patients remain contagious for up to two weeks of beginning treatment and they must take the appropriate care in this time. However, TB is not that easy to catch. As against getting it from a stranger, you are more likely to contract it from an infected person or family member with whom you interact with closely on a regular basis.