• 08 NOV 17
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    Tuberculosis- An Airborne Disease

    Tuberculosis- An Airborne Disease

    Among all the other airborne diseases prevailing worldwide, Tuberculosis is one of the deadliest ones. Tuberculosis is one the world’s top diseases which is infectious and killer too. Nearly 5000 people die every day due to this global disease. India is found to have a maximum number of tuberculosis patients and is a top country to bear this burden worldwide. It is no more said to be the disease of poor people only. It is increasing in the rich population as well. Tuberculosis is a silent respiratory infectious disease which impacts the quality of life greatly. The threat increases more as it can spread from one infectious person to another uninfected person.

    What is tuberculosis?

    Tuberculosis is a severe infectious disease affecting lungs mainly and is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). Other body parts can also be affected by this disease. Tuberculosis is an airborne disease and spreads through the air.

    Transmission of infection

    TB being an airborne disease spreads only through the air. If the person having active TB in his lungs coughs, speaks, spits or sneezes then expulsion of tiny infectious droplets is there. These droplets are in the air only and not on the surfaces. So if any uninfected person comes in contact with this infectious air also gets an infection.This infection does not spread from shaking hands or like sharing food with a person having tuberculosis.

    Signs and Symptoms

    In maximum cases, there are no signs of infections. It affects mainly lungs. General signs and symptoms of tuberculosis are as follows:

    1. Persistent cough
    2. Weight loss
    3. Loss of appetite
    4. Sweating during night
    5. Fever
    6. Fatigue
    7. Chills
    8. Nail clubbing


    The signs and symptoms vary according to the site of infection. These are given as below:

    Pulmonary Tuberculosis: If the infection involves the lungs only and is inactive, then it is said to be pulmonary tuberculosis. The symptoms of such infection include chest pain including a persistent cough or blood in a cough.

    Extra Pulmonary Tuberculosis: If the infection spreads outside the lungs and is active, it is said to be extrapulmonary tuberculosis. This infection can occur in joints, bones, CNS, lymphatic system, pleura and genitourinary system. Symptoms include weakness, chills, fever, progressive dyspnea and malaise.

    Types of TB: There are two types of TB.

    Active Tuberculosis: In this type, the infectious bacteria spread to other parts of the body by getting multiplied. The person suffering from active Tb in his lungs can spread it to other people also.

    Latent Tuberculosis: This infection does not have any visible symptoms and is inactive. The latent TB is not contagious.

    Risk factors for Tuberculosis

    There are several risk factors which make one more susceptible to Tuberculosis. One of the common risk factors is malnutrition. Other related risk factors are:

    1. Genetics
    2. Weak immunity
    3. Low body weight
    4. Infected with HIV
    5. Cancer or Hodgkin’s disease
    6. Silicosis
    7. Diabetes
    8. Frequent smoking
    9. Alcoholism
    10. Lung disease


    Causes of Tuberculosis

    Tuberculosis is caused by the bacteria which spread into the air in the form of small or tiny infectious droplets. The common bacterium responsible for Tuberculosis is Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB).Other pathogenic mycobacteria causing Tuberculosis are M. Microt, M. Bovis, M. Canetti, M. Africanum, M. leprae, M. avium, M. kansasii and M. avium.

    Complications of Tuberculosis

    Tuberculosis is a disease of lungs mainly so if left untreated can lead to lifelong complications or even death also. The complications of tuberculosis include:

    1. Liver or kidney problems
    2. Spinal pain
    3. Damage to joints
    4. Heart disorders
    5. MDR tuberculosis
    6. Cardiovascular disease



    There are no visible signs and symptoms of tuberculosis in early stages so it is very difficult to diagnose the disease, though early diagnosis can help to treat the infection effectively. If left undiagnosed and untreated it can lead to lung damage and can result in death as well. The active form of tuberculosis is contagious and not the latent form. If the latent form is treated well over time, we can stop it from spreading to others. So it is advisable to get treatment of tuberculosis at the latent stage only as without becoming active, an infection cannot be transmitted to other people. By taking some precautionary measures and good treatment this ailment can be prevented.

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