What is Tuberculosis | All You Need To Know

What is tuberculosis? What causes tuberculosis? These and more are questions this article is set to answer. Tuberculosis is somewhat a bane of one’s existence has its remedy and preventive measures.

Tuberculosis is an ancient human disease caused by Mycobacterium, tuberculosis which affects the lungs particularly, it is a multi-systematic disease.

The human most commonly affected includes the Respiratory System, Central Nervous System, Reproductive System, Gastrointestinal Tract System, Musculoskeletal System, Skin, etc.

What is Tuberculosis: All You Need To Know

Tuberculosis can develop when bacteria spread through droplets in the air. It can be chronic but in many cases, it is preventable and curable.

In the past few years, proper eradication programs and other forms of outreach have been done globally to eradicate this deadly disease, Tuberculosis. This effort has yielded positive growth especially since 2000 when the World Health Organization (WHO, 2017) gave an estimate of 1.5% every year of Tuberculosis being curtailed.

However, Tuberculosis remains a matter of concern in many other areas including the United States. Currently, antibiotics resistance is causing renewed concern about Tuberculosis among professionals. Some strains of the disease are not responding to the most effective treatment options.

Therefore, Tuberculosis is difficult to treat. When Tuberculosis is active, the body may be unable to contain Tuberculosis bacteria, a body with a weakened immune system is more likely to be infected due to illness or use of certain drugs.

The bacteria replicate in this process and cause symptoms resulting in active Tuberculosis. People with active Tuberculosis are liable to transmit the infection rapidly. According to the Centre for Drug Control (CDC), in about 50% of these people, the progression occurs within 2-5 years of getting infected.

When Tuberculosis is latent, an infected person might never develop any symptom and no form of damage on a chest X-ray. However, a blood or skin scrap test will indicate the presence of Tuberculosis infection.



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Symptoms/Early Signs of Tuberculosis

  • Chronic cough
  • HIV status
  • Blood in sputum (coughed out mclcor)
  • Weight loss
  • Night fever
  • Sweats (mostly at night)
  • Seizures
  • Persistent headache
  • Joint pain
  • Confusion
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chest pain


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Risk Factors of Tuberculosis

The risk of developing Tuberculosis is more prevalent in:

  • A weakened immune system
  • A person who an infection develops in the past 2-5 years
  • A person who has not received proper treatment for Tuberculosis
  • Young children and other adults
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Silicosis
  • Delay in receiving treatment (complications)
  • Immuno suppression
  • Radiologic evidence of extensive spread



Complications Caused by Tuberculosis

Most patients do not have aggressive courses. Some of the complications that come with tuberculosis are;

  1. Systemic amyloids
  2. Empyema
  3. Pneumothorax
  4. Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  5. Extensive lung destruction
  6. Millitary spread
  7. Damage to cervical sympathetic ganglia
  8. Sepsis


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What is Causes Tuberculosis?

M. tuberculosis bacteria causes Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis spreads through air droplets and transmits to another person, through coughs, sneezes, spots, talks, and laughs. Only active Tuberculosis can be spread, but people with appropriate treatment can no longer be of threat or transmit it for two weeks at most.



A proper Tuberculosis test must be carried out if you:

  • Spend time with a person who is infected
  • Work in an environment where Tuberculosis is prevalent
  • Spend time in a country with high rates of Tuberculosis


Diagnostic Test

  • Culture
  • Acid fast staining- Ziehl-Neelsen
  • Nuclear Amplification and Gene-Baseal Test
  • Chest X-ray
  • Tuberculosis skin Test
  • Tuberculosis Blood Test


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Tuberculosis Prevention

There are various ways of Tuberculosis prevention from infecting others, but few are listed here, they include;

  • Proper use of face mask (covering the mouth and ventilation rooms)
  • Maintaining social distancing till there is no longer a risk of infection
  • Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment
  • Administration of vaccines



Tuberculosis Treatment

The course of Tuberculosis treatment depends on whether the infected individual in the latent or active stage or on his or her probability of risk. The right type of antibiotic and length of treatment depends on:

  1. An individuals age and state of well being
  2. Location of the infection
  3. Either a latent or active Tuberculosis
  4. The strain of Tuberculosis, whether its drug-resistant or not

If a person has recently come in contact with an infected individual and a TST is negative, Latent Tuberculosis Infection Treatment (LTIT) can be started and continued if the TST result is positive after a 12-week window.

HIV patients however must continue to the treatment even if the TST result shows negative Treatment of Tuberculosis usually involves a mixture of multiple drugs or a mixture of other drug substances, with an intensive initial 2-month phase followed by a slower 4-6 months continuation phase.



Tuberculosis Vaccination

The use of vaccines is also a form of preventing Tuberculosis. In some countries, children receive an anti-tuberculosis vaccination. The Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine-as part of a regular immunization program.

BCG vaccine is the current used to mimic the natural immune response to infection. Although it has been used for over a period of time, its efficiency is highly variable. It has only limited protection in adults with pulmonary Tuberculosis. With such, there is a need for a better vaccine.



Drug Regimen

First-line medication:


  • Adults (maximum): 5mg/kg (300mg) daily; 900mg (once, twice, or three times weekly0
  • Children (maximum): 300mg daily; 900mg twice weekly. Dosage form-Tablet (50mg, 100mg, 300mg); Syrup (50mg/5ml); Aqueous solution (100mg/ml) for IVor IM injection.


  • Adults (maximum); 600mg once daily; twice weekly
  • Children (maximum); 600mg once daily; twice weekly. Dosage form: Capsules (150mg, 300mg)


  • Adults (maximum): 300mg daily, twice or thrice daily weekly
  • Children (maximum): Child’s dose is unknown

Note; When you combine Rifabutin with Efavirenz, the dose of Rifabutin is stepped up to 450mg-600mg daily or at intervals.

Dosage form: Capsules (150mg) for oral administration.


  • Adults; 20-25mg daily
  • Children (maximum); 15-30mg/kg daily.
  • Dosage form; Tablets (500mg)


  • Adults: 15-20mg daily
  • Children (maximum): 15-20mg; 50mg/kg twice weekly.
Second Line Medication

Injectable Polypepticles

  • Capreomycin
  • Viomycin

Injectable Aminoglycosides

  • Streptomycin
  • Kanamycin
  • Amikacin

Oral and Injectable Fluoroquinolones

  • Ofloxacin
  • Moxifloxacin
  • Levofloxacin
  • Gatifloxacin


  • Linezolid
  • Ethionamide
  • Cycloserine
  • Terizidone
  • Thioacetazone




Tuberculosis especially an active infection is transmittable and potentially fatal if proper treatment and preventive measures is not taken. Treatment of most cases is possible if detected early. In other to combat a prevailing disease such as Tuberculosis it is necessary to have a conceptual and clear understanding of it.

This can be done by a collaborative effort of all health personnel and the general public to push the boundaries of knowledge and further research on Tuberculosis and methods of eradicating the disease. Anyone encountering any symptoms listed in this article and any other related symptoms of Tuberculosis should contact a doctor or pharmacist immediately.

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