Tuberculosis (TB): Causes & Symptoms

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While you don’t hear about tuberculosis in the modern world nearly as much as we did in the past, there are still areas and countries where it is still a major problem. For example, there are more than 13 million active cases of tuberculosis around the world each year, which is a dangerously high number.

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB), also called consumption, is a serious infectious bacterial disease that attacks the lungs. It can easily be transferred through sneezing, coughing, fluid exchange, or other means of germ spread, just like a common bacterial infection. The factors that can contribute to our likelihood of contracting tuberculosis include:

  • Weak immune system health
  • Overcrowding
  • Malnutrition
  • Vulnerability to other lung diseases
  • Previous/ongoing experience with an autoimmune disorder

While advances have come along in a major way towards treating and preventing the spread of tuberculosis, many of those who need this help cannot access it, and when left untreated, tuberculosis is roughly 50% lethal.

Cause

Tuberculosis is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. It is highly contagious and can spread very easily when the affected person coughs, sneezes, spits, laughs, or speaks.

Symptoms

Here is how to recognize the signs of TB:

  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • A persistent cough
  • Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Pneumonitis (may be the only symptom in the elderly)
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