Tuberculosis: What are the vital facts?

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Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that spreads via inhalation of droplets when an infected individual sneezes or coughs.

The condition chiefly affects the lungs but can affect any body part including the bones, abdominal glands and the nervous system. Remember that this is a serious condition but it can be cured if properly treated with antibiotics.

Continuous cough that persists more than 3 weeks and generally brings up phlegm that is streaked with blood.


The generalized indications of tuberculosis include:

  • Continuous cough that persists more than 3 weeks and generally brings up phlegm that is streaked with blood
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Swelling in the neck

A doctor must be consulted if the individual has a cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks or coughing up blood.

Management of tuberculosis

With proper care, tuberculosis can be cured. A course of antibiotics should be taken for up to 6 months. Various antibiotics can be given since certain forms of tuberculosis established resistance to certain antibiotics.

If infected with the drug-resistant variant, the treatment involves 6 or more medications. In case diagnosed with pulmonary TB, the individual is contagious for 2-3 weeks during treatment.

There is no needed to be isolated during this period, but it is vital to take the necessary precautions to prevent the infection from spreading to others such as:

  • Staying away from school or work until the doctor advises that it is safe to return
  • Always cover the mouth when sneezing, coughing or laughing
  • Properly dispose any used tissues in a sealed plastic bag
  • Avoid sleeping in the same room with others
  • Open the windows if possible to ensure good supply of fresh air in areas where the individual spends most of the time

For those who are in close contact with an infected individual, it is vital to undergo testing to check if infected. These tests include blood tests, chest X-ray and a skin test (Mantoux test).

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