Historically, tuberculosis was called consumption as weight loss was – and still is – such a common symptom. Unfortunately, tuberculosis is a disease still very much alive in the present and one which needs testing and treatment, fast.
What is tuberculosis (TB)? The NHS says tuberculosis is a bacterial infection. How is tuberculosis spread? By inhaling the tiny droplets present in the air from the coughs or sneezes of someone infected with active TB, over time. Tuberculosis centres on the lungs but can impact the tummy, glands, bones and nervous system. Tuberculosis is potentially serious but usually curable if treated with the correct antibiotics.
Is tuberculosis contagious? TB spreads just like colds and flu, but it is not as contagious. Tuberculosis doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. Some people’s immune system kills the bacteria without causing symptoms. For others, the bacteria is not always successfully eliminated and so remains but it does not spread. This is latent TB. If you have latent TB, you are not infectious to others at this time.
If your immune system cannot kill the bacteria or stop its spread, it gets to the lungs and other areas with symptoms showing in a few weeks or months – active TB. Latent TB can turn into active TB in time, especially with an already weakened immune system.
If tuberculosis concerns you, Pall Mall can offer you all the tests, scans and diagnostics you may need to determine both your diagnosis and your best route to recovery.
Symptoms of Tuberculosis (TB)
Tuberculosis symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite and weight loss
- High temperature
- Night sweats
- Persistent cough (more than 3 weeks); usually with phlegm (possibly bloody) – see your GP
- Persistently swollen glands
- Tummy pain
- Pain and a movement loss in a bone or joint affected
- Persistent headache
- Fits (seizures)
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue
- Neck swellings
What causes Tuberculosis (TB)?
Bacterial infection causes tuberculosis (TB). Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) is the most contagious, affecting the lungs, and one usually contracted after considerable time spent with someone who has active TB.
Treatments for Tuberculosis (TB)
With treatment, TB can almost always be cured. Tuberculosis treatment usually involves taking a course of antibiotics, as prescribed, for as long as six months. Many different antibiotic medications may be needed to effectively treat it as some forms of TB are drug-resistant. Tests-wise, you may need to find out whether you are infected with such a drug-resistant strain or if you have pulmonary TB, which is contagious for about 2-3 weeks into your treatment.
The tuberculosis vaccine (BCG vaccine) offers TB protection and is recommended on the NHS for babies, children and adults under the age of 35 and who are considered at risk of contracting TB.
Access to the correct treatment plan for you starts with the right diagnosis so get tested. At Pall Mall we offer tuberculosis testing plus we offer the Mantoux test – a skin test for people in close contact with someone with TB.