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Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that commonly affects the lungs and any organ in the body. This disease may develop once the bacteria spread via droplets in the air. Tuberculosis could be fatal but in many cases, it is treatable and preventable.

This disease began increasing in 1985, relatively because of the rise of HIV. HIV weakens the immune system of a person, so it is not able to fight Tuberculosis germs. In the United States, Tuberculosis starts to drop again in 1993. However, it remains a concern.

Numerous Tuberculosis strains fight back to the medications most used to treat the disease. Several people with this condition need to take many types of medications for months to get rid of the infection and prevent antibiotic resistance.

What Causes Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that spread from person-to-person microscopic droplets released into the air. This happens if someone with the untreated, active form of Tuberculosis sneezes, coughs, speaks, laughs, spits, or sings.

Even though Tuberculosis is transmittable, it is not easy to catch. You’re much more likely to get the disease from someone you live or work with than from a stranger. Several people with active Tuberculosis who’ve had proper medication treatment for at least two weeks are no longer contagious.

Signs and Symptoms of Tuberculosis

  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Chest pain or pain with coughing or breathing
  • Coughing up mucus or blood
  • Coughing for three or more weeks

Risk Factors of Having Tuberculosis

A healthy immune system often successfully fights Tuberculosis. Conversely, various conditions can weaken your immune system including:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Certain cancers
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Very young or advanced age
  • Malnutrition or low body weight
  • Some drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and psoriasis
  • Drugs to prevent rejection of transplanted organs

Areas with high rates of Tuberculosis include:

  • China
  • South America
  • Russia
  • Africa
  • South Asia such as Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh
  • The western Pacific region including Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines

Safety Precautions

If you have active Tuberculosis, it usually takes a few weeks of treatment with Tuberculosis medications before you’re not infectious anymore. Follow these tips to help keep your family and friends from getting sick:

  • Ventilate the room

The germs of this disease spread easily in small closed places where air does not move. Open the windows and use a fan to blow indoor air outside if it is not too cold outdoors.

  • Stay home

Avoid going to work or school as well as sleeping in a room with other people during the first few weeks of treatment.

  • Wear a face mask

During the first three weeks of treatment wearing a face mask when you are around other people may help lessen the risk of transmission.

  • Cover your mouth

Use a tissue to cover your mouth anytime you cough, laugh, or sneeze. Put the dirty tissue in a bag, seal it and throw it away.

Treating Tuberculosis

If you have active tuberculosis of the lungs, you might infect other people. For this reason, your doctor will recommend you to stay home during the first few weeks of treatment, until you’re no longer infectious. During that time, you must avoid people with weakened immune systems like people with HIV, young children, and the elderly. There is a need for you to wear a special mask if you need to go to the doctor’s office or have visitors.

Your health care provider may also admit you to the hospital until Tuberculosis germs are no longer expelled from your cough. You may be hospitalized for a longer period if you cannot dependably take your medications nor have a multidrug-resistant strain of Tuberculosis. The goal is to prevent the spread of the disease.

Medications for Tuberculosis

The most common medications used to treat Tuberculosis include:

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