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Tuberculosis (TB)

Description

TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.The bacteria can destroy parts of the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a chronic infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. It usually affects the lungs, but can attack other parts of the body.  It is mainly spread by breathing in air-borne bacteria from people with active infectious TB disease. The bacteria can destroy parts of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.    

Who is most at risk? 
 
Tuberculosis mostly affects adults in their most productive years. However, all age groups are at risk. People who are infected with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop active TB (see TB and HIV section below). Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of TB disease and death. 7.9% of TB cases worldwide are attributable to smoking.                   
Symptoms and diagnosis
 
Symptoms 
  • cough with sputum and blood at times
  • chest pains 
  • weakness 
  • weight loss
  • fever and night sweats 

Treatment
 
TB is a treatable and curable disease. Active, drug-susceptible TB disease is treated with a standard 6-months course of 4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer. The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines are provided and taken properly.  If medicine is not taken properly, one can develop MDR and XDR TB.

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