12-02-2021 / Respiratory System, Lungs and Pulmonology

Tuberculosis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Tuberculosis is one of the chronic diseases that is caused due to bacteria that primarily affects a person's lungs; this article will provide you a brief of Tuberculosis and its symptoms, causes, test, and treatment.

Tuberculosis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Mazia AhmedMazia Ahmed

Mazia Ahmed

MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar

Table of Contents

What is Tuberculosis Disease

Widely known as Active TB, this disease is sometimes uncontrollable by the immune system itself and is among the severe forms of TB. It has been studied that patients of these sorts are already suffering from other diseases or have a weaker immune system. In such cases, the bacteria that cause Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium Tuberculosis) can get multiplied, and their symptoms can easily be reflected among the patients. The patients who have developed the Tuberculosis Disease must take precautionary measures to contain the disease as they have a higher chance to spread the disease among the masses. People with a history of Latent TB Infection are also prone to get this disease or people who are already relying on certain medications.

Tuberculosis in India

  • India has several enemies that the country still has to fight; poverty, crime rate, diseases, etc., which are some of the common examples of India's flaws. Among them, the rise in the number of diseases is one of the core problems for the country and its future. India has a narrower health care infrastructure, and the country hasn't been able to reach its desired goal in the field of medical & healthcare.

  • India, being one of the most polluted and populated nations, is home to many epidemic diseases. These diseases are hurdled to reach the required level of development and directly affect the vast population. The health and medical challenges seem extremely difficult to tackle as the masses are unaware of many diseases and their scope of effect.

  • Among the number of chronic diseases, Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most commonly found in India. The official relevant authorities of the country have actively participated in eliminating this disease and make India a TB-free nation. We will further be discussing every dimension of the disease like its causes, background, symptoms & how it should be prevented.

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the chronic diseases that is caused due to bacteria which mostly affects the lungs of a person. Mycobacterium Tuberculosis is the official name of the bacteria that causes this disease. Air is the primary route via which the disease is spread, i.e., coughing/sneezing can spread the disease among others too. For example, a person infected with Tuberculosis throws out the bacterium particles in the air while sneezing or coughing, which are later inhaled by another person.

  • Going to the history of Tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes the disease was first discovered back in the year 1882 at the University of Berlin. Since the year 1982, which marked the 100th anniversary of its discovery, World Tuberculosis Day is celebrated every year on 24th of March.

  • Tuberculosis can affect any part of the human body, i.e., it doesn't necessarily attack the human lungs but can also affect other organs like the brain, kidney, etc. The scope of the disease is widespread among human beings, and the risk of its effects varies from person to person.

Tuberculosis in India Infographic

What is Latent Tuberculosis Infection?

In such cases, the human body has TB Bacteria in it, but they never develop any symptoms for it. In these situations, a person's immune system is generally strong and can tackle the bacteria that causes Tuberculosis disease. Note that this is the Tuberculosis Infection and not the mainstream TB disease. In such situations, the bacteria present in the immune system doesn't get multiplied, which makes it a standstill situation. It is seen that in several cases of Latent TB Infection, the patient himself is unaware of it. Another important point here to note is that the patient of Latent TB Infection cannot spread it, among others. It doesn't mean that such patients are free from the disease, but they still need to take up the treatment.


What Causes Tuberculosis?

The primary cause of Tuberculosis has already been stated above, i.e., the bacteria named Mycobacterium Tuberculosis causes this disease via spread in the air. Here are some of the conditions of humans that are prone to get this disease:

  • People with HIV

  • Drug addicts

  • People who have undergone an organ transplant

  • People living in poor AQI

  • Medications that lower the immunity

Is Tuberculosis a communicable disease?

The simple answer to this question is "Yes." Tuberculosis can easily be spread via air particles, and also the transmission process is simple, which makes this disease a degree more dangerous. The important thing here is to note that Tuberculosis is only spread by inhaling the affected particulates in the air via sneeze, cough, etc. The people in a developing country like India, where education lacks among the masses, aren't aware of the insights into this disease. Tuberculosis is not spread by doing the following acts:

  • Shaking Hands

  • Sharing Food

  • Sharing common Bathrooms

  • Kissing

Communicable Disease

Symptoms of Tuberculosis

The above-stated activities don't cause TB transmission as its bacteria doesn't stay on the surfaces but can only be spread via air. Many times, people unnecessarily panic and take irrelevant precautions to stay protected from the disease and still end up catching the disease. This is because the people aren't completely aware of the various aspects of the disease. Knowing the symptoms of a particular disease allows a person to stay aware of it as well as take measures to curb it in its initial stage. Here are some of the well-known symptoms of Tuberculosis that people widely experience:

These symptoms are common among TB patients. Therefore, it is advised to look out for expert advice if you're facing similar symptoms.

Tuberculosis is a disease that doesn't necessarily show its indication among the patients. Thus, it is also possible for a person to have TB for a long period and still, she/he is unaware of the disease. Tuberculosis has been elaborated in two distinct types, which have separate characteristics. TB has widely been divided into two categories:

  • Latent Tuberculosis Infection

  • Tuberculosis Disease or Active TB

Let us now look at these two types more specifically so that our readers get precise knowledge about the disease.

Tuberculosis TB Tests

Many common tests are preferred for the diagnosis of Tuberculosis. However, we will be talking about the tests that the World Health Organization recommends. The international organization has recommended the use of Rapid Molecular Diagnostic Tests. It recommends that a person who is experiencing symptoms similar to the ones stated above should go for this test during the initial stage. It is because this test has a higher rate of accuracy than many others. Such tests include the Xpert MTB/RIF, Truenat assays, and Xpert Ultra.

There are other successful tests as well that assure the accurate diagnosis of the disease. These tests are for the detection of the disease tell about the type of Tuberculosis, i.e., Latent Infection or TB Disease.

Molecular Diagnostic Tests

  • Microscopy of the stained sputum is a well-known test of Tuberculosis which reflects the result in a maximum of 2 days.

  • The sputum sample with the Tuberculosis Bacilli studied via microscope is another renowned test of TB diagnosis.

  • Chest X-Ray, Computerized Tomography (CT) Scans, and MRI tests also have a greater scope of accuracy in diagnosing the TB disease.

  • Biopsy of lungs or related tissues can be a decent way to diagnose the disease.

  • The Tuberculosis Skin Test (PPD) and the Tuberculosis Blood Test are two other types of diagnosis that can very well indicate whether a person has Tuberculosis or not, irrespective of its type.

While talking about India, the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) has progressed in the array of TB disease by allowing the marginal section of the society to have a cost-effective treatment for this disease as well as the provisions of diagnosis have become more accessible. The Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program of India prefers the Sputum Smears Test for the diagnosis, which is considered the most accurate test.

Tuberculosis Treatment

  • Tuberculosis is a curable disease and can be managed by taking certain precautionary measures. The disease can easily be treated within 6 months by undergoing a specific course of antimicrobial drugs. These medications must be consumed under the guidance of expert medical personnel.

  • TB-Resistant medicines are among the traditional ways of treating the disease. The common scenario of poor-quality medicines and increased duplicity of medicines makes it challenging for a person to treat TB correctly.

  • Do not be a victim of the medicines which state that consuming them would lead to the elimination of TB, as there is no single drug that suffices the potential to cure Tuberculosis of its roots.

However, the following are some of the first-line drugs that have proved out to be successful in curbing the disease to an appreciable extent:

  • Isoniazid

  • Pyrazinamide

  • Rifampicin (RIF)

  • Ethambutol (EMB).

Word of Wisdom

Tuberculosis is among such diseases of India that have been a victim of mankind of the country. Its widespread has led to many deaths in the past and is still not eliminated. Come forward and pledge to make India a TB-free country by doing our bit, like taking precautionary measures.


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 

National Institute of Health


Book: Tuberculosis Research

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