Dr Devesh Kanoongo

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Lungs diagram which infected to tuberculosis

Understanding Meaning of Tuberculosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

The infectious disease tuberculosis (TB) is brought on by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Although it primarily targets the lungs, it can also affect the kidneys, spine, and brain, among other organs.TB is transmitted through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks, releasing bacteria-laden droplets that can be inhaled by others nearby.

The history of TB dates back centuries, with evidence of the disease found in ancient Egyptian mummies. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that TB became a major public health concern, particularly in crowded urban areas during the Industrial Revolution. At that time, TB was often referred to as “consumption” due to the characteristic wasting and coughing up of blood by those affected.

The introduction of TB in the 19th century sparked a global epidemic that continued into the 20th century. The lack of effective treatments and preventative measures contributed to its spread. Overcrowded living conditions, poor sanitation, and malnutrition worsened the situation, making TB a leading cause of death worldwide.

Meaning of tuberculosis

A bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the source of the infectious disease tuberculosis (TB). Although it mostly affects the lungs, it can also have an effect on the kidneys, the spine, and the brain. TB spreads through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, releasing tiny droplets containing the bacteria.

The disease has been a significant global health concern for many years, with millions of new cases reported annually. TB can be classified into two main types: latent TB infection and active TB disease.

Latent TB infection: In this condition, the bacteria remain in the body but are inactive and do not cause symptoms. People with latent TB infections are immune to the disease and cannot transmit it to others. However, the bacteria can become active in the future, leading to the development of active TB disease if the person’s immune system weakens.

Types of tuberculosis

The bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the source of the infectious contagious disease known as tuberculosis (TB). Although it primarily targets the lungs, it can also affect the kidneys, spine, and brain, among other organs. There are several types and classifications of tuberculosis based on different factors. Here are some common types of tuberculosis:

1. Pulmonary Tuberculosis:

This is the most common form of tuberculosis, where the infection primarily affects the lungs. It can cause symptoms such as a persistent cough, chest pain, weight loss, fatigue, and coughing up blood or phlegm.

2. Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis:

In this type, the infection affects organs outside of the lungs. It can affect various parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, bones, joints, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and meninges (the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord).

3. Drug-Susceptible Tuberculosis:

This refers to tuberculosis that is susceptible to the standard anti-TB medications, including isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide. Most cases of tuberculosis fall under this category.

4. Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis:

Some strains of M. tuberculosis have developed resistance to one or more of the primary anti-TB drugs. Drug-resistant tuberculosis is further classified into the following categories:

a. Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB):

This form of tuberculosis is resistant to at least the two most potent anti-TB medications, isoniazid and rifampicin.

b. Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB):

XDR-TB is a severe form of drug-resistant tuberculosis that is resistant to isoniazid and rifampicin, as well as to fluoroquinolones and at least one of the injectable second-line drugs (e.g., amikacin, kanamycin).

c. Totally Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (TDR-TB):

TDR-TB is an unofficial term used to describe strains of tuberculosis that are resistant to all available anti-TB drugs. However, the term is controversial and not widely accepted in the medical community.

5. Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI):

LTBI refers to a condition where a person is infected with M. tuberculosis but does not show active symptoms of the disease. Individuals with LTBI are not contagious but have the potential to develop active tuberculosis in the future if the infection becomes active.

It’s important to note that tuberculosis is a complex disease, and these classifications may vary based on diagnostic criteria and local guidelines. Diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis should always be conducted by qualified healthcare professionals.

Tuberculosis Symptoms

The infectious disease tuberculosis (TB) is brought on by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. While anyone can contract TB, certain factors can increase a person’s risk of developing the disease. Here are some common risk factors associated with tuberculosis:

1.Weakened Immune System:

Individuals with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to TB. This includes people living with HIV/AIDS, those undergoing chemotherapy or treatment with immunosuppressive drugs, organ transplant recipients, and individuals with certain autoimmune conditions.

2.Close Contact with Active TB Cases:

Spending time in close proximity to someone with active TB increases the risk of transmission. This is particularly relevant for household members, close friends, or coworkers who spend a significant amount of time with an infected individual.

3. Living or Traveling to High TB Burden Areas:

TB is more prevalent in certain regions, particularly in developing countries with limited access to healthcare and poor infection control measures. Living in or traveling to these areas can increase the risk of exposure to TB.

4. Age:

While TB can affect individuals of any age, older adults, especially those above 65 years, have a higher risk of developing the disease due to age-related weakening of the immune system.

5. Substance Abuse:

Substance abuse, particularly injecting drugs, can increase the risk of contracting TB. Substance abuse weakens the immune system and often leads to poor living conditions, which can facilitate the spread of the disease.

It’s important to note that having one or more of these risk factors does not guarantee that a person will develop tuberculosis. However, they do increase the likelihood of contracting the infection. If you have concerns about tuberculosis or your risk factors, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Tuberculosis Diagnosis

Tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis involves a combination of medical history evaluation, physical examination, and various diagnostic tests. Here are some common methods used for diagnosing tuberculosis:

1. Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST):

This test involves injecting a small amount of tuberculin purified protein derivative (PPD) into the forearm. After 48 to 72 hours, a healthcare provider checks for a raised, red bump at the injection site. A positive reaction indicates exposure to the bacteria that cause TB, but it does not confirm active disease.

2.Interferon-Gamma Release Assays (IGRAs):

These blood tests measure the release of interferon-gamma by white blood cells when exposed to specific TB proteins.The QuantiFERON-TB Gold and T-SPOT are two IGRAs that are frequently utilised.TB exams. Similar to the TST, a positive result suggests exposure to TB but does not distinguish between latent infection and active disease.

3. Chest X-ray:

A chest X-ray is used to examine the lungs for signs of active TB, such as abnormalities like cavities or infiltrates. However, a chest X-ray alone cannot confirm a TB diagnosis and further tests are needed.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional if you suspect you have tuberculosis or have been exposed to someone with TB. They can evaluate your symptoms, perform the necessary tests, and provide appropriate treatment and care.

Tuberculosis Treatment

The treatment of tuberculosis (TB) typically involves a combination of medications called anti-tuberculosis drugs. The standard treatment for active TB consists of an initial phase followed by a continuation phase. It’s important to note that the specific treatment regimen can vary depending on factors such as the type of TB infection, drug resistance, and individual patient considerations. Here is a general overview of the treatment process:

1. Diagnosis:

TB is diagnosed through various tests, including a physical examination, chest X-ray, sputum analysis, and possibly a TB skin test or blood test.

2. Drug therapy:

The primary treatment for TB involves a combination of several drugs to combat the infection effectively. The standard regimen consists of an initial phase followed by a continuation phase. The drugs commonly used include:

a. Isoniazid (INH)
b. Rifampin (RIF)
c. Pyrazinamide (PZA)
d. Ethambutol (EMB)

In some cases, additional drugs may be prescribed, such as streptomycin or fluoroquinolones, if the TB strain is resistant to the standard drugs.

3. Treatment phases:
a. Initial phase:

It typically lasts for two months and involves taking a combination of all four drugs daily. This phase aims to kill the actively multiplying TB bacteria.

b. Continuation phase:

After the initial phase, the treatment regimen is adjusted. The continuation phase usually lasts for four to seven months. The specific drugs used and the duration of this phase depend on various factors, including the patient’s response to treatment and drug resistance patterns.

4. Adherence to treatment:

It’s crucial to complete the full course of treatment, even if symptoms improve or disappear. Prematurely discontinuing treatment can lead to drug resistance and a relapse of TB. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional or a specialist in tuberculosis for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan. They will consider individual factors, such as the patient’s medical history, drug resistance patterns, and any coexisting conditions, to develop an appropriate treatment strategy.

Tuberculosis Prevention

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes the infectious disease known as tuberculosis (TB). Although it can affect other body parts, the lungs are its primary target. Here are some important measures for TB prevention:

1. Vaccination:

The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is widely used in many countries to prevent severe forms of TB, especially in children. While it may not offer complete protection against the disease, it can help reduce the risk of severe forms of TB in children.

2. Avoid close contact with infected individuals:

TB spreads through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Avoid spending prolonged periods in close proximity to someone with active TB, especially in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.

3. Cover your mouth:

If you have active TB or suspect that you might have it, it’s important to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. This helps prevent the bacteria from spreading to others. Use a tissue or the crook of your elbow to cover your mouth and dispose of the tissue properly.

4. Good ventilation:

TB bacteria can remain suspended in the air for an extended period. Ensure good ventilation in living spaces, workplaces, and public areas to reduce the concentration of bacteria in the air.

5. Maintain a healthy immune system:

A strong immune system can help fight off TB infection. By eating a balanced diet, exercising frequently, controlling your stress levels, and getting enough sleep, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Remember, prevention is key to controlling the spread of tuberculosis. If you have concerns about TB or suspect you may have been exposed, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for guidance and appropriate testing.

Tuberculosis Global Efforts

Tuberculosis (TB) is a global health concern that affects millions of people worldwide. Efforts to combat TB are carried out by various organizations, governments, and international bodies. Here are some of the key global efforts to address tuberculosis:

1. World Health Organization (WHO):

The WHO plays a central role in coordinating global efforts to combat TB. It provides technical guidance, sets global standards, and supports countries in implementing effective TB control strategies. The organization promotes research and innovation, monitors the global TB situation, and works towards achieving global targets for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care.

2. Stop TB Partnership:

The Stop TB Partnership is a network of organizations, governments, and other stakeholders dedicated to ending the TB epidemic. It works to mobilize political commitment and resources, advocate for increased investments in TB programs, and support the development and implementation of effective strategies to prevent and treat TB.

3. Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria:

The Global Fund is a financing mechanism that provides significant resources to support programs aimed at combating TB, along with HIV/AIDS and malaria. It channels funding to countries with a high burden of TB, supporting prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care services.

These are just a few examples of the global efforts in the fight against tuberculosis. While progress has been made, TB remains a significant global health challenge, and sustained commitment and collaboration are necessary to eliminate the disease.


In conclusion, while progress has been made in the fight against tuberculosis, it remains a significant global health challenge. Continued efforts to improve diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies, as well as increased investment in research and development, are essential to further reduce the burden of TB and work towards its ultimate eradication.

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