Pulmonary tuberculosis (also known as TB) is a contagious bacterial infection that attacks and destroys the lung tissue. With an early diagnosis, pulmonary tuberculosis can be treated and cured with antibiotics. Those with TB can infect others around them, causing an epidemic which when left untreated can cause life-threatening complications such as permanent lung damage.
WHAT CAUSES PULMONARY TUBERCULOSIS?
The bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is airborne and spread through the air by inhaling air exhaled by someone with tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is spread by coughing, sneezing or laughing and is an epidemic in areas where people are in close proximity to one another.
Although there isn't a cure for asthma, the symptoms can be managed to prevent severe asthma attacks and complications such as permanent tightening of airways.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS (TB)?
TB attacks the tissue of the lungs causing those infected to experience symptoms such as:
- Coughing up phlegm
- Coughing up blood
- Constant fever
- Chest pain
- Night Sweats
- Unexplained weight-loss
Even if these symptoms aren't present, there is a chance that tuberculosis could be in your system but be latent. Diagnostic tests will be able to help Dr Kenaope tell the difference between any other pulmonary condition and TB, even if latent.
After reviewing your symptoms, Dr Kenaope may choose to test for tuberculosis. To diagnose tuberculosis, he may perform the following tests:
- A chest x-ray – this may be done to view the lungs and if the tissues are inflamed.
- A sputum test – by asking for a strong cough, the phlegm that is coughed up can be viewed under a microscope to identify TB bacteria.
- A CT scan – a scan of your lungs may help him detect an infection.
- A bronchoscopy test – this test may be done to allow your physician to have a look at the internal structures in the airways. By threading a bronchoscope with a
camera at the end through the nose or mouth down to the lungs, your physician may see the internal airways on a video screen. It is done to look for mucus,
infection and blockage.
Once diagnosed, Dr Kenaope will be able to prescribe treatment for tuberculosis. This may involve several medications that need to be taken for an extended period of time. The most common medications include:
- Ethambutol (Myambutol)
- Rifampin (Rifadin)
You will be prescribed one of the above medications for the next 6 months. It becomes your responsibility as a patient to take your medication. It is essential to complete the treatment as stopping (even if you feel better) or skipping medications may lead to a medicine-resistant form of TB called multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). This form of tuberculosis is much harder to treat and may involve expensive second-line treatments that take up to 2 years to be effective.