What are the causes and symptoms of Tuberculosis? Complications of Tuberculosis and prevention the disease.
Tuberculosis; the disease and its causes Tuberculosis is caused by the tubercle bacillus-found in humans, cows, and birds. These bacteria are spread by particles of dust or droplets which are expelled by a tubercular patient when he talks, coughs, laughs, or sneezes; or they are introduced into the intestinal tract by way of contaminated foods—such as milk from tubercular cows or objects placed in the mouth. Men and women between the ages of 20 and 40 are most susceptible. The exact incubation period is unknown and varies from days to many years.
The exact incubation period is unknown and varies from days to many years.
Tuberculosis is a generalized illness affecting all organ systems. Pulmonary tuberculosis, discussed here, and the most common form, affects the lungs. The onset is usually abrupt, and there may be no history of exposure to the disease. A main symptom is a cough which can be either dry or productive. There is some spitting which varies in quality. Blood spitting may occur, and there may be pain in the chest. Frequently the voice box is involved and hoarseness results. Shortness of breath may be noted, often an indication of long-standing or advanced disease. There is almost always fever in active pulmonary tuberculosis, generally accompanied by night sweats, loss of strength, and loss of weight. When the gastro-intestinal system is involved there may be marked loss of appetite and symptoms of indigestion. Occasionally there is diarrhea.
The main complications are pleurisy, an involvement of the lining of the lung; pleural effusion, in which the chest fills with fluid; tuberculous laryngitis, the cause of the hoarseness; and pneumothorax, which is rupture of the lungs. A form of tuberculosis called miliary occurs when the infection is spread through the bloodstream to involve any part of the body, including the brain.
(or lessening of impact) As yet, there is no really effective vaccine for the prevention of tuberculosis, although one has been undergoing extensive clinical testing for many years. A tuberculin test is available which shows whether or not an individual has been exposed to tuberculosis, or has had a healed case.
High hygienic standards and good health are necessary to maintain resistance to the disease. All contact with infected people or foods from contaminated sources should be avoided. Anyone exposed should have routine chest X rays so that the infection can be detected early and treated promptly. Specific medical and surgical treatment is available once the diagnosis is established.