Tuberculosis (TB) is a common, infectious disease caused by the bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. March 24 is World TB Day and this is an opportunity to learn new facts about the disease, its prevention, and treatment.
Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs, but the disease can also affect other parts of the body. According to the National Jewish Health organization, tuberculosis has two categories of either an active disease or latent infection. Active TB is usually lung disease marked by symptoms such as cough and bloody phlegm, but it may invade the body in nodes and become extrapulmonary (outside the lungs) TB, affecting all body organs. It is important to get quick medical care because there is a rare form of TB, milliary TB, where the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and spread, affecting multiple body organs. People who have the latent form of the disease are also at risk from the disease. While latent carriers of the disease do not show symptoms, they can still test positive on a TB test and be at risk for the active form.
TB and Reproduction
Tuberculosis, because it can affect body organs other the lungs, can cause infertility in women because it can spread to the genital tract and then to the uterus and Fallopian tubes. According to an article in The Journal of Clinical Microbiology, this type of TB is difficult to diagnose but should not be ruled out is finding causes of infertility.
Lifestyle matters in preventing TB. Smoking, according to the World Health Organization, increases the risk of TB. General health habits such as eating fruits and vegetables, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and exercise is helpful to building a strong immune system.
TB and Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding babies for a long time helps to build their immune systems and strengthen their resistance to TB. It is safe, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society, to breastfeed babies while you are taking medication to cure TB. Not taking the medicine puts others, including your child, in danger of TB. Take the full course of anti-TB medicine your doctor prescribes.
There is a vaccine for TB, the bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccine, but it should be used in very rare circumstances because the vaccine, according to the Center for Disease Control, can interfere with the Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) and give a false positive. The vaccine is only for children or health workers who have a negative TST and are continually exposed to others who are untreated or not effectively treated for TB or who are exposed to drug-resistant forms of TB.