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Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis has influenced human lives hugely since ages. It appeared as if Tuberculosis was coming under control about ten years ago. However, unfortunately, Tuberculosis has become now a greater challenge in the recent time due to very difficult and resistant strains of the tuberculosis organisms, now called as Multidrug resistant Tuberculosis (MDR) and Totally Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (TDR).

Tuberculosis:Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most common infectious diseases found especially in the developing countries. In this article we will talk about Pulmonary Tuberculosis.

Causes of Tuberculosis:

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These bacteria commonly affect the lungs but the disease can affect other organs also like brain, bones, spine, skin, eyes, liver, and joints and lymph nodes.

Stages of Tuberculosis:

Tuberculosis is divided into two phases.

Active phase: This phase is highly infectious and it can make a person sick with symptoms of TB (Tuberculosis). A person with active phase of TB can spread the infection to others.

Latent phase: In this condition, a person's body harbors the TB bacteria in his body. But, these bacteria remain in an inactive stage due to strong immune system of that person. This phase does not show any signs or symptoms of Tuberculosis.

Active phase:

A person in acute phase of Tuberculosis has following symptoms.

  • Cough: Person with TB infection will give history of having cough not responding to medicines, since more than three weeks,
  • Blood in sputum: Person with Tuberculosis passes blood in sputum especially in the morning. This is a very important symptom; enough to raise suspicion about the disease.
  • Night sweats: This is also very commonly seen in the patients suffering from TB. Often the person wakes up at night because of sweating on back and forehead.
  • Evening rise of temperature: A person infected with TB will typically give history of fever appearing mostly in the evening and at night.
  • Loss of appetite: Person infected with Tuberculosis complains of marked reduction in appetite.
  • Weight loss: Person having Tuberculosis shows significant weight loss in a short span. Significant weight loss within one or two months is enough to raise the suspicion about the infection.
  • Fatigue: Person experiences fatigue and loss of stamina.
  • Pain in chest while coughing or breathing

Latent phase of Tuberculosis:

People having latent Tuberculosis DO NOT SUFFER FROM ANY SYMPTOMS. They may show positive result for the Mantoux Test. People with latent phase of Tuberculosis may or may not develop active tuberculosis. This entirely depends on their immunity.

Spread of Tuberculosis: Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that spreads via droplets present in the air. Patients suffering from Tuberculosis spread the infections to others while coughing, sneezing and spiting in open. People living in closed and ill ventilated rooms can contract the infection very fast if one of the persons in the group suffers from Tuberculosis.

Risk factors of developing Tuberculosis:

Anyone can get infected with Tuberculosis. But, there are some conditions which fall into high risk category for developing Tuberculosis.

  • Patients having suppressed or low immunity as in HIV and Diabetes Mellitus.
  • Patients suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Patients who have undergone organ transplantation and are on immunosuppressants.
  • End stage renal disease.
  • Malnutrition
  • Living in overcrowded places
  • Excessive smoking and tobacco consumption
  • Excessive alcohol abuse.
  • Certain occupations like miners working in mines, people working in diamond polishing units etc. are at higher risk of developing tuberculosis.

Investigations:

Following tests are done to rule out Tuberculosis.

  • Blood tests: Doctor may advise the patient to undergo Complete Blood Count with ESR test.
  • Chest X-Ray or CT scan: Chest X-Ray of the patient shows the condition of the lungs. When the results of X-Rays are doubtful, doctor sends the patient for CT scan.
  • Sputum test: Patient's sputum is sent for investigations. Sputum culture test is done to find out which medicine will be best suited to the patient in combating Tuberculosis.

Conventional Medications for Tuberculosis:

There are many medicines available for the treatment of Tuberculosis. The treating physician is the best judge for choosing the particular medicine for a particular patient.
The patient has to take the medicine for a long period of time usually for 9 months to 1 year. It is extremely important for the patient that he should not stop taking medicines halfway. This can make him resistant to the drugs which he was taking and he has to restart his treatment with another drug.

Side effects of taking conventional medicines:

Minor side effects like nausea, vomiting, swelling and tenderness of the liver, passing dark colored (brownish or reddish) urine etc. are commonly seen in the patients. Irrespective of side effects, completing the entire course of medication as suggested by the physician is a must for the patient.

Prevention of Tuberculosis:

Tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease which can spread easily. Following measures help in preventing the spread of the disease.

  • Educate the patients to keep a handkerchief on his mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing.
  • As far as possible avoid sharing room with the patients.
  • Patient should be kept in a very well ventilated room with plenty of sunlight. Sunlight can kill the bacteria and keep the air clean.
  • Doctors, nurses and family members should wear a mask for the safety precautions while dealing with the patients.
  • Encourage the patients to complete the entire course of medicines under the doctor's guidance.

Homeopathic approach to the treatment for Tuberculosis:

Homeopathy has a supportive role to play in the treatment of Tuberculosis. At this point, we do not suggest treating tuberculosis only with homeopathy. It is interesting to note that one recent study conducted by CCRH has demonstrated efficacy of homeopathic medicine when combined with the conventional treatment. Further studies would help better control of this disease.

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