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Tuberculosis – Symptoms and Causes of Tuberculosis

The term ‘tuberculosis’ (or TB) has been derived from the name of its causative bacterium Tubercles bacillus. Tubercles bacillus is a strain of the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a very deadly and a serious infection.

TB has been found to show fatal results in about 50% of its patients, if left untreated. About one-third of the total worldwide population has been found infected with TB. It is also estimated that every second at least 1 person is infected with TB. The symptoms of Tb are common in Asian and African countries whereas the count is quite less in the US.

Symptoms of Tuberculosis

TB can affect any part of the body but, lungs are most commonly affected. The most common symptoms of TB are –

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of strength
  • Loss in appetite
  • Paleness of skin or pallor
  • Rise in body temperature
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Bodyache
  • Persistent cough
  • Hoarseness in voice
  • Pain in shoulders
  • Pain in chest
  • Signs of indigestion
  • Coughing up blood or Appearance of blood in the sputum
  • Tendency to fatigue easily
  • Night sweats

Causes of Tuberculosis
The primary cause of Tuberculosis is Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This bacterium takes 16-20 hours to divide and multiply its number. The bacterium enters the body through the nose, mouth and wind pipe and settling in the lungs. Then it affects the lungs.

The infection can also occur in other parts of the body. It multiples inside the body into millions of tubercles. The infection is highly contagious and spreads through air. When people carrying the infection sneeze, spit or cough, they spread the infection in the air. There are a few risk factors that are associated with tuberculosis. These are –

  • Devitalization of the body system
    Lowered body resistance is a common cause of acquiring Tb infection. Improper food or inadequate foods are the chief causes. Living in an ill-ventilated house can also lower your resistance and immunity. Other factors that can affect your resistance include – addictive habits (like – smoking, drinking, tobacco), higher stress and improper lifestyle.
  • Silicosis
    Persons with silicosis are more vulnerable to develop TB. They are about 30-fold greater risk. The silica particles interferes with the respiratory system of the body.
  • Chronic Renal Failure
    People suffering from chronic renal failure are also 10-25 times more prone to develop the infection of TB.
  • Low body weight
    People with a BMI below 18.5 has an increase in risk of developing TB infection by 2—3 times.
  • Diabetes
    Diabetic people suffering from diabetes mellitus are at higher risk of contracting tuberculosis infection. They even show a poor response to the TB treatment.
  • Twins
    It is very commonly observed that twins get infected easily. If one pair of the twin gets the infection, then the other is more likely to get infected. It hardly matters if the twins are identical or non-identical.
  • Other clinical conditions that can increase the chances of infection in patients are –
    • IV Drug abuse
    • history of inadequately treated TB
    • chest X-ray suggestive of previous TB
    • fibrotic lesions and nodules
    • prolonged corticosteroid therapy
    • prolonged immunosuppressive therapy
    • immunocompromised patients (30-40% in AIDS)
    • hematologic and reticuloendothelial diseases (Leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease)
    • end-stage kidney disease
    • intestinal bypass
    • chronic malabsorption syndromes
    • vitamin D deficiency
    • exposure to cold
    • lack of proper sleep
    • inhaling impure air
    • living a sedentary life
    • overwork or excess stress
    • tobacco and other harmful addictions

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