Tuberculosis (tuberculosis, BTK) is an extremely serious ailment that primarily affects the lungs. The micro-organism that causes tuberculosis is carried by the respiratory system and can spread by the coughing and sneezing of an infected person. Once rare in industrialized countries, tuberculosis outbreaks began growing in the late 1985's, largely due to the arrival of a new drug, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The advent of this infection allowed for a higher number of people to contract tuberculosis, thereby raising the incidence and prevalence of pulmonary complications. With an increase in the number of people exposed to infectious diseases and a worsening economy, tuberculosis has reached epidemic proportions.
Unlike many other forms of infectious diseases, tuberculosis usually does not develop symptoms. However, if left unchecked, symptoms of infection can develop over a period of five years or more, making diagnosis difficult and resulting in poor outcomes. Most often, a patient will go unnoticed until one day they start experiencing shortness of breath, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, cough, and swelling in the lungs. If the symptoms are ignored, it is possible that they may not exhibit any symptoms at all and thus, might not be diagnosed. However, patients who do display some of these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.
Another pulmonary complication of tuberculosis is biliary colic, which usually affects those with a family history of the disease. In this condition, the spleen becomes enlarged and inflames the gall bladder, causing back pain, fever, and jaundice. Persons with latent or infection have not been diagnosed with tuberculosis or any other pulmonary disease for a long period of time, and thus are at a high risk for developing this complication. In addition, persons with chronic liver disease are also at risk for developing colic.
When the incubation period of tuberculosis infection is prolonged, it develops. Infection often occurs when HIV infected people visit areas of heavy traffic or urbanicity. For example, in developing countries such as India, visitors to cities such as Mumbai and Delhi may suffer from HIV because of the poor health conditions in these cities. These individuals do not develop symptoms of infection, as their immune system is not yet strong enough to fight off the disease. Individuals with HIV experience a delayed onset of symptoms, and when symptoms do surface, they are usually too late to seek treatment. Due to the prevalence of HIV in developing countries, tuberculosis has become the disease of choice for those who have acquired HIV through another means.
One of the major reasons why humans are categorized as high risk for contracting tuberculosis is because they live in areas where disease-causing bacteria are in abundance. For example, in highly crowded areas like health facilities, nursing homes, and other public facilities, an ample number of susceptible people can exist.
Also, these locations are typically poorly sealed and poorly cleaned, which increases the chances for the presence of disease-causing bacteria. Individuals who have been in close contact with sick patients, or who have engaged in other forms of health care sharing such as needle exchange, are considered to be at high risk for contracting tuberculosis. Because of these risks, it is important for these individuals to regularly receive health screenings for this so that they can be diagnosed promptly and treated.
The development of HIV does not always mean an infection with infectious tuberculosis. In fact, many people who contract HIV are not infected with tubercle bora, which is the most common cause of tuberculosis infection. Individuals who contract HIV but are not suffering from tuberculosis can still develop an infection with or if they have exposure to infected blood after having recovered from tuberculosis. Unprotected sex with an infected person who has not recovered from tuberculosis can also lead to the development of bora.
Like many diseases of the poor, tuberculosis can affect a person's long-term health. Because of this, people who have contracted tuberculosis often experience symptoms such as long-term fatigue, poor appetite, malaise, night sweats, and severe aches and pains. Even with treatment, some people who have active tuberculosis can still suffer from complications such as lung inflammation and scarring. If patients do not get timely treatment, these complications can lead to death. This is why it is critical for patients to get tuberculosis screenings at recommended times and for family members to closely monitor the patient's health and progress.
The most common complication of tuberculosis that has short-term effects is pulmonary tuberculosis or pulmonary mites. These parasites reside in the lungs of those with chronic inflammation, such as those with HIV/AIDS. Treatment with antibiotics is ineffective in these situations because the body's immune system cannot fight off the parasites. These types of pulmonary mites often cause death due to complications in the lung area. Fortunately, there are other types of treatments available for patients with latent tuberculosis infection, including combinations of drugs for both eliminating the infection and boosting the immune system.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and is probably the most prolific eulogy writer (and, no doubt, the best) anywhere. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones.