Approximately 8.6 million individuals are diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB), and 1.3 million will die of the disease globally, but it is commonly found in the developing world. Tuberculosis is a highly contagious but treatable infection that predominantly affects the lungs and throat, but can also spread to the kidney, bones, and brain. So what is tuberculosis exactly? Find out what causes this highly contagious infection, who is most at risk for developing it, and how to treat the different kinds and prevent the spreading of this old world disease.
What Is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by slow-growing bacteria that fester in areas of the body containing an abundant amount of blood and oxygen, hence why it is commonly found in the lungs. Tuberculosis found in the lungs is known as pulmonary TB and tuberculosis that spreads to other organs is called extrapulmonary TB. This condition is highly contagious, but treatment is often effective and can take between six to nine months to treat, or in severe cases, can take up to two years to treat an infected patient.
Tuberculosis can also be either latent or active. Latent TB is when the immune system is defending the body against tuberculosis bacteria and keeping it from becoming active, with no visible symptoms. Active TB is when the tuberculosis bacteria are growing inside of the body and symptoms have become noticeable in the patient, and it is easy to spread the disease to others. Pulmonary tuberculosis is contagious, however extrapulmonary TB does not spread as easily as it is usually contained within another part of the body. Tuberculosis spreads when an individual has active tuberculosis breathes out air with TB bacteria in it and another individual breathes in the bacteria from the air. Even more bacteria can become airborne when an infected person coughs or laughs as well.
Still curious about tuberculosis? Continue reading to learn about the history and risk factors linked to it now.