1. What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis, also called TB, is a serious condition usually affecting the lungs, which is called pulmonary tuberculosis. When it affects other organs, like kidneys, bones and joints, it is called extrapulmonary tuberculosis. Fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss and weakness are the common symptoms of TB.
2. What causes tuberculosis?
It is caused by a bacteria which spreads through the droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs, speaks, spits or laugh. Conditions which causes weakening of the immune system, such as HIV infection, also increases the risk of tuberculosis.
3. Do I need to quit smoking if i have tuberculosis?
According to the World Health Organization, 7.9% of the TB cases worldwide occur due to smoking. Also, smoking affects the throat and lungs. Therefore, it is recommended to quit smoking if you are diagnosed with tuberculosis.
4. How is this condition diagnosed?
In addition to physical examination, a PPD tuberculin test is the first step in the diagnosis. This tuberculin is injected just below the skin of your forearm. This area of injection is observed for 48-72 hours for swelling and red bump, which indicates the presence of tuberculosis. Blood tests, sputum tests and imaging tests like x-rays are recommended for further confirmation of the diagnosis.
5. Why does the doctor insist on completing the therapy, even when I don't experience any symptoms?
Although you may not be experiencing the symptoms, some bacteria may still be alive and mutates to develop resistance to the current therapy if dose is not completed. If treatment is left without completing the course, tuberculosis may relapse. The mutated bacteria will make it difficult to manage the condition with the same medications. Complete dose helps eliminate all the bacteria.