Tuberculosis: not a death sentence anymore
Medical science has advanced leaps to transform tuberculosis (TB) from a ticket to certain death to a treatable, manageable disease. Yet, taboo surrounding the transmission and treatment of tuberculosis exists.
The bacterium that causes TB -- Mycobacterium tuberculosis -- spreads through droplet transmission, when a person inhales droplets from another person with active TB. Does this mean a single droplet is enough to cause TB? The answer is no.
Although TB spreads in a similar way to a cold or flu, someone has to be in prolonged contact with a person with active TB to catch it themselves. So, if you travel on the bus with a TB-infected person, you're not likely to catch it.
There's another catch: many might even have the TB bacteria in them, but they will not be sick, neither will they spread. The primary differences between active TB and latent TB are that the latter does not have any symptoms, does not spread, chest X-ray scans will return normal, but a TB skin test will come out positive.
This means, you will not show symptoms, you will not feel sick, you will not cause harm to others, but you will test positive. Expert physician advice is always encouraged, even to treat cases of latent TB.
Active TB, however, will come with chest pains, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, and a persistent cough that comes with blood or sputum. If you have been coughing for more than two weeks, it is best to test for TB. The faster you start the treatment, the better.
Treatment and management of TB is at least a year-long process, but results start to show within weeks. Doctors usually prescribe a combination of antibacterial medications.
While you will start to feel significantly better, it is important to continue taking your medication as any disruption to the course runs the risk of relapsing. However, this time, it might be harder since the bacteria will have become drug-resistant.
TB is not a death sentence anymore; neither is it easily transmissible. Managing the disease is easy with a little dedication, timely checkups, and an outlook to never give up on the medication.