Pulmonary Tuberculosis Might Spread Beyond Your Lungs

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Mar 24, 2018
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Quick Bites

  • Tuberculosis alone is an epidemic and life-threatening disease
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis is when Mycobacterium tuberculosis attacks the lungs and spreads to other parts of the body
  • According to the American Lung Association, more than 9.2 million people have an active form of this bacteria

Tuberculosis alone is an epidemic and life-threatening disease. But what could be worse is that tuberculosis can spread beyond the lungs, causing other infections.

Pulmonary tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection, which does not stay put and spreads to other parts of the body. The bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the primary bacterium leading to pulmonary tuberculosis. Pulmonary tuberculosis is basically when Mycobacterium tuberculosis attacks the lungs and spreads to other parts of the body.

It spreads when a person suffering from pulmonary TB breathes out the air droplets that contain the infectious bacteria and another person breathes the same air. The bacteria containing Tb is released more when the infected person coughs or laughs.

According to the American Lung Association, more than 9.2 million people have an active form of the bacteria. If not taken care of in time, then it may turn into permanent lung damage. Among the people who carry the germ, most have latent TB, meaning that your immune system is protecting you from getting sick.

People who have an active form of the bacteria in their system are a 10% lifetime risk of getting the disease. However, if a person starts showing symptoms of pulmonary TB and it might be contagious.

Read: Understanding all about Tuberculosis and its Causes

Symptoms of Pulmonary TB

  • A consistent cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Constant fever, along with a low-grade fever
  • Continuous chest pains
  • Inexplicable weight loss
  • Night Sweats
  • Tiredness
  • Fatigue

An infected person might show other symptoms, in such case, consult a doctor as an expert would be able to give proper diagnosis after looking at the symptoms.

Who are at Risk of Pulmonary TB?

Most people who develop the aforementioned symptoms have previously been infected with primary TB.  Some people are more at risk of developing the disease than others:

  • Those who have a weak immune system, especially the ones suffering from life-long diseases such as diabetes, AIDS, and kidney disease
  • Persons who take medications that weaken the immune system such as those undergoing chemotherapy
  • Elderly people and infants
  • People who smoke
  • People having autoimmune disorders

Read: Side effects of anti-TB medicines

Diagnosis

Your doctor will potentially:

  • Schedule a chest X-ray
  • Inquire about your medical history
  • Conduct a physical exam to check if any fluids are present in the lungs
  • Organize a medical test to confirm pulmonary TB including a skin test and a blood test

Prevention

Once you are diagnosed with pulmonary TB, you immediately become contagious. To avoid spreading the infection, you must take a few basic precautions. If you suffer from the disease or you are surrounded by someone who has pulmonary TB, there are certain things you can do to reduce the risk of the disease:

  • Avoid close contact with someone who suffers from the disease
  • Cover your face with a mask, especially when you cough or sneeze
  • Educating yourself and the people around you about preventing TB like cleaning equipment and cough etiquette
  • Take all medicines prescribed to you by your doctor
  • Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid school, work or social gatherings until your doctor asks you to do otherwise
  • Carefully dispose of the all used tissues in a plastic bag
  • If you spend a lot of time inside a place, then let fresh air come in through the windows and the doors

Read more articles on Tuberculosis.

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