How to treat tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is the popular name for the Tubercle Bacillus, an extremely powerful infectious disease that is caused by the mycobacterium tuberculosis virus. The disease is one of today's biggest health issues, as it spreads at an enormously fast rate.
Statistics show that almost one third of the total global population is infected with the mycobacterium tuberculosis virus, however most cases are asymptomatic, meaning that the virus is in a “dormant” state and will cause no damage.
When one of these latent tuberculosis infections goes active, it can attack several areas such as the circulatory system, lymphatic system, nervous system, bone structure and most commonly, the lungs. Actually, in 75% of active tuberculosis cases the lungs are infected, in which case the disease is commonly referred to as pulmonary tuberculosis.
Due to its unpredictable nature, the tuberculosis virus may have various symptoms when going active. General tuberculosis symptoms include fevers, loss of appetite, heavy and fast weight loss, fatigue, chills and night sweats.
- Common symptoms - In patients that suffer from pulmonary tuberculosis (which is the widest form of the disease) symptoms include an annoying, prolonged dry coughing, chest pain, breathing problems and coughing up blood.
- More serious symptoms - In case the disease affects a different area, or it spreads to a different area from the lungs, the symptoms may vary. For example, if the tuberculosis affects the bone structure, it will attack the spine. When the disease attacks the lymphatic system, tuberculosis symptoms include swollen lymph nodes and pains around the neck area.
Most of these extra-pulmonary infections will be found in immunosuppressed persons and children whose immune system is not yet powerful enough to cope with the mycobacterium tuberculosis virus.
Studies on the pathophysiology of pulmonary tuberculosis shows that in most cases the first area the disease is likely to attack after the lungs is the kidneys and bone structure.
High risk of death if untreated - Before saying anything about tuberculosis treatment it needs to be understood that leaving the disease untreated will kill a sufferer in about 70% cases. Treating it reduces the mortality rate to 5% so it's extremely important that you spot the symptoms early on and start the treatment accordingly.
Long-term treatment - A tuberculosis treatment usually takes around 6 months, of which in the first two, the patient will undergo extensive treatment through isoniazid (which is also used in treating the disease), rifampicin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol. After this first-line treatment is over (roughly two months) the second phase continues with isoniazid and rifampicin for an additional 4 months. In most cases, even if the tuberculosis was discovered relatively late, the patient should be cured in 6 months.
However, the faster it is diagnosed and the faster you can recognize the symptoms, the better the chance of the treatment being effective so make sure you understand and can spot tuberculosis symptoms immediately, either in yourself or a family member or friend.