Chances are you have heard of Tuberculosis. It is a very well-known terminology. Tuberculosis, otherwise known as TB, is caused by an airborne bacteria spread from person to person. Many people fear this disease, as it affects the lungs and other areas of the body.
If untreated in an active state, it can also be inevitably deadly. But what are the truths and falsehoods about TB, how it is treated, and how can we clear up the stigma?
Is TB Highly Infectious?
There seem to be some misconceptions between regular TB and drug resistant TB.
One myth about Tuberculosis is that it is an aggressively infectious disease. This is simply not the case. It takes long, enclosed exposure to someone infected with the disease to contract it. Also, not everyone with TB is inherently contagious.
Another misconception is that TB is always active if you have it. This is also not the case. Reportedly, 90% of those infected with TB have a dormant case with no active symptoms. It is also reported the over 2 million people are diagnosed with TB worldwide. While latent TB can develop into active TB, it is not transmittable or physically detectable.
Your body will not fight TB unless it is necessary. Most cases of active TB occur in people who have lowered immune systems and are more susceptible to illness. Risk factors would include factors like autoimmune diseases, cancers, and HIV/ AIDs.
Another risk factor for active cases of TB is living in an underdeveloped country. In well-developed countries, risk factors decrease tremendously, and TB is highly manageable or curable if caught early. This is largely due to medical advancements and balanced diets.
It is best to be well-educated and aware of the causes, risk factors, and what we can potentially do to eradicate it.
Drug-resistant TB is a strain of TB that has become untreatable by antibiotics. When this happens, the drug can no longer kill the bacteria, leaving its host vulnerable. This means taking the prescribed treatment will do nothing for the patient.
Drug-resistant TB can occur when a person fails to take full treatment once diagnosed. It could also be caused by poor antibiotic quality. When this happens, the disease builds up strength to medication, causing it to become ineffective.
There are two types of known drug resistant TB. These are Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR TB) and Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XDR TB). MDR TB is resistant to the two main drugs isoniazid and rifampin. XDR TB is resistant to not only isoniazid and rifampin but also fluoroquinolone and one of three of the injectable treatments.
XDR TB is especially concerning for those with HIV and other immunity-affected diseases.
What’s the Solution?
The fact is, bacterial diseases are resilient. They have a high chance of developing different strains and immunity to treatments. It is important to not over-treat diseases like TB, as this can cause an even bigger super TB to take precedence.
While modern medicine has been focused on eradicating the disease, new research shows that we should instead be studying the immunity of the disease. There are now over 600,000 cases of drug resistant TB emerging yearly.
The treatment for drug resistant TB is very risky. Not only does it have serious side effects, it is also quite pricey. Treatment can be very hard for some to afford, especially considering the time spent off work.
When it comes to the 2 million infected TB individuals, unless the disease becomes active, treatments should be used on a case by case basis. Researching more deeply as to how these people can be infected but not show it would be a great way for us to analyze how to naturally control it.
With the way strains can morph to become impenetrable against medicines, it is imperative to get to the root cause. If many people are being infected while seeming completely symptomatically unaffected, it would be a much better treatment option to discover why.
Overtreatment is not doing the job. Perhaps there will be a development soon in the world of TB where we can combat it with minimal risk.