18 March 2019

Tuberculosis is a chronic infection caused by bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. When affected by tuberculous mycobacteria, respiratory organs most often suffer, in addition, tuberculosis of bones and joints, genitourinary organs, eyes, and peripheral lymph nodes occurs.

Pathogen Characterization

Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex is a group of bacterial species that can cause tuberculosis in humans. The most common causative agent is Mycobacterium tuberculosis (obsolete – Koch's wand). 

Mycobacteria are extremely resistant to environmental influences, persist for a long time outside the body, but die under the influence of direct sunlight and ultraviolet radiation.

The reservoir of infection and the source of infection with tuberculosis are sick people. Most often, infection occurs by contact with sick people with pulmonary tuberculosis in an open form, when tuberculosis bacteria are excreted in sputum. In this case, a respiratory infection pathway is realized (inhalation of air with dispersed bacteria). A patient with active secretion of mycobacteria and severe cough is able to infect more than ten people during the year.

Sometimes infection occurs alimentary (bacteria enter the digestive tract) or by contact. In this case, tuberculosis is transmitted with milk, eggs, when animal feces get into water sources. It is far from always the entry of tuberculosis bacteria into the body causing the development of infection. Tuberculosis is a disease often associated with unfavorable living conditions, decreased immunity, and protective properties of the body.

The immune system weakens because of::

- insufficient nutrition or malnutrition;

- alcoholism;

- drug use;

- prolonged use of hormonal drugs;

- HIV infection;

- diabetes;

- peptic ulcer and other chronic diseases.

How to protect yourself from becoming infected with tuberculosis?

Avoid everything that can weaken the strength of your body: eat well and fully, exercise, do not smoke, do not abuse alcohol. Try to ventilate and keep the room you are in more clean. If in your environment, among relatives, friends or colleagues, someone has symptoms of tuberculosis, advise him to consult a doctor.

Tuberculosis symptoms

Due to the many clinical forms, tuberculosis can manifest itself in a wide variety of symptom complexes. The course of the disease is chronic, usually begins gradually (for a long time it can be asymptomatic). Over time, symptoms of general intoxication appear – hyperthermia, tachycardia, weakness, decreased performance, loss of appetite. The main symptoms include: prolonged cough (more than 3 weeks), loss of appetite, weight loss, general malaise, weakness, sweating (especially at night), periodic increase in body temperature.

Diagnosis of tuberculosis

Since tuberculosis is often asymptomatic at first, preventive examinations play a significant role in its diagnosis. Adults need to have a chest x-ray every year, and children need a Mantoux test (a tuberculin diagnostic technique that detects the degree of infection of the body with tubercle bacillus and tissue reactivity). The main method for diagnosing tuberculosis is radiography of the lungs. In this case, foci of infection can be detected both in the lungs and in other organs and tissues.

Tuberculosis treatment

Tuberculosis treatment is aimed at healing foci and eliminating symptoms. Launched tuberculosis can be treated much worse than timely detected, even more severe course (destructive forms). The treatment of tuberculosis takes a year or more and it is complex (combines the methods of drug therapy, physiotherapy). If you feel better, there is no case you should interrupt or change the doctor’s prescription.

Tuberculosis prognosis

Currently, in most cases, with the timely identification and compliance with the necessary therapeutic measures, the prognosis is favorable – tuberculous foci are healed and clinical signs subside, which can be considered a clinical recovery.

In the absence of treatment or non-compliance with the recommendations, mortality from tuberculosis reaches 50% of cases. In addition, the prognosis worsens in the elderly, HIV-infected, and people with diabetes.

Tuberculosis prevention

Preventive measures carried out by specialized anti-tuberculosis medical institutions together with institutions of general medical profile include preventive examinations of citizens (mandatory annual fluorography), identification of patients suffering from open forms of tuberculosis, their isolation, examination of contact persons, specific prevention of tuberculosis.

Specific prevention (vaccination) is aimed at the formation of anti-tuberculosis immunity, including the introduction of BCG vaccine or prophylactic chemicals. In persons vaccinated with BCG, tuberculosis proceeds in milder, benign forms, and is easier to treat. Immunity usually forms 2 months after vaccination and subsides after 5-7 years.

Remember. Different people are susceptible to infection to varying degrees, but most often people with a weakened immune system get sick. With timely detection of the disease and proper treatment, tuberculosis can be completely cured. A sick person becomes a carrier of the disease and poses a danger to others. The tuberculosis bacterium is very tenacious: as soon as the intake of anti-TB drugs is interrupted or their dose is reduced, mycobacteria not only restores vital activity, but also becomes resistant to drugs, which makes further treatment very expensive and unpromising.




4th City Clinical Hospital named after M. Saŭčanka          U. Čarnoŭ