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Tuberculosis: Do you know enough about this fatal disease?

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Don't dismiss your child's persistent cough because it just might be one of the symptoms of tuberculosis--which is potentially life threatening.

Although data show that the occurrence of tuberculosis in the Philippines is declining, the disease still poses a real threat. Infants and younger children are susceptible to developing life-threatening forms tuberculosis.

That's why it is imperative for parents to spot symptoms of tuberculosis so that a proper diagnosis and treatment can given immediately.

Definition

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially fatal bacterial infection. It is highly contagious and can affect the lungs and other organs.

Understanding Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis can either be latent (bacteria is present in the body but is inactive because of a healthy immune system) or active (bacteria becomes active--and thus symptoms of tuberculosis manifest--due to a weakened or compromised immune system.

Below are other types of tuberculosis:

Pulmonary Tuberculosis

The bacteria thrives in areas with a large concentration of blood and oxygen. This is why the infection is often in the lungs. As such, this is referred to as pulmonary tuberculosis. It is highly contagious because bacteria is spread through droplets, through coughing or talking, from an infected person.

Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis

This occurs when the bacteria spreads to other parts of the body.

Drug resistant Tuberculosis

Some germs developed the ability resist certain drugs and antibiotics used to treat the disease.

symptoms of tuberculosis

Signs and Symptoms of Tuberculosis

Most infants and children infected with latent tuberculosis, which is the first infection of the tuberculosis bacteria, will most likely not show symptoms and won't be contagious. X-ray tests will not reveal the infection as well.

Here are the symptoms of tuberculosis to watch out for:

  • Persistent cough that has thick and cloudy mucus that may be tinged with blood. Coughing may last up to two to three weeks
  • Weakness, lethargy, fatigue that may lead to weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Persistent fever
  • Night sweats
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain when breathing
  • Neck swelling, indicative of infected lymph nodes
  • Chest pain, which is rare

If the tuberculosis spreads to other parts of the body, symptoms of tuberculosis appear  may vary. Tuberculosis in the kidney may lead to blood in urine, while tuberculosis of the spine may cause back pain.

Causes 

The tuberculosis bacteria is the culprit. It can be spread easily through droplets in the air delivered by someone infected with active tuberculosis through: coughing, sneezing, spitting, laughing, talking or singing.

Continue reading to learn about tuberculosis risk factors, complications and when to call the doctor

Health & Wellness