Tuberculosis is one of the most feared diseases. Do you know what is responsible for it? The bacteria, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis or TB affects the lungs and is known to be a highly contagious disease, capable of spreading to others, through cough, sneeze or spit. Once the TB germs are propelled into the air, it only takes a few of them, when inhaled to cause an infection in a healthy person.
Statistics from many research papers proclaim that up to 1/3rd of the world’s population suffers from a possible variety of TB, which cannot be transmitted, because the bacteria, despite being present hasn’t made the person ill yet.This is called Latent TB and these people are at risk of developing active TB later if their immunity lowers. On the other hand, people who develop active TB have the following symptoms –
- A cough
- Night Sweats
- weight loss
During this stage, the TB itself is very mild, and at this moment the patient needs to visit a specialist doctor dealing with tuberculosis and seek care, to prevent the bacteria from spreading to anyone around them and for treatment to get cured . With the TB being mild in the current state, it could escalate to a more severe state when left untreated. Statistics suggest that without proper treatment about 2/3rds of the patients suffering from TB tend to die.
Does TB have a permanent cure?
Yes, TB could be cured completely with the right medications and treatments, however, for this, the patient needs to consult the doctor as soon as they notice that the symptoms of the disease are persistent and would not go away. The World Health Organisation’s statistics state that since 2000, around 53 million lives have been saved through effective diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
However, a complete cure is based on several principles of treatment, which are listed below –
- Drug treatment is the only effective treatment for TB.
- There is a certain rate of relapse associated with single drug treatment for TB.
- Patients also have chances of experiencing a relapse, even those who seem to be improving. With single drug treatment, there are chances of developing bacteria that could be resistant to the drug used for treatment.
- As for patients with active TB, they need to receive at least three drugs, because anything fewer than three could result in resistance to the development.
- Multidrug regimen for TB treatment is the recommended way of treatment.
- Treatment is at least for 6 months., sometimes may need to be extended to 9 – 12 months
- Compliance with TB treatment is the responsibility of the treating physician as well as the patient.
The primary purpose of treating TB is the idea to kill the bacteria altogether, but due to unprecedented circumstances, the relapse of the bacteria is possible. But this does not negate the fact that the disease is incurable.
Doctors treating a patient with TB (Active or Latent) the first line of drugs which are used are –
For these drugs are known for their bactericidal activity, which is to kill the bacteria as much as possible permanently. Doctors will prescribe necessary doses which usually depends on the patient’s weight.
These drugs are usually used for the first two months of the treatment and doctors might change them depending on their reaction towards the disease in the patient. In the case of drug resistance, additional drugs could be added to the initial treatment. Additionally, these are the primary drugs used to treat new patients with TB.
As for patients who are considered ‘old patients’, which mostly is someone who has experienced TB before. For these patients, the treatment period is more extended than usual and could last for months.
Doctors advice patients to regularly follow medications and to not skip for any reason. When in the case of relapse or drug-resistant bacteria, consult your doctor immediately for the next step.
TB treatment is proven to be effective, and many patients are entirely cured of the disease. Like in all procedures, there is no absolute guarantee the medications work on all patients. However, as mentioned before on the chances of relapses of TB, many factors aid this recurrence. Factors include lack of commitment to the care from patients, wherein some do not take their medications regularly or because the drug may not be capable enough to fight the bacteria.
The essential part of TB treatments is that it definitely can be cured, in some cases, it may take unprecedented amounts of time, but it will eventually. But what is vital is the timing of the treatment received by patients as well as reporting to a doctor immediately in the case of persistent symptoms. TB if not treated promptly could lead to severe consequences.
About the Doctor:
Dr J. Raghunath Reddy, Consulting Pulmonologist at Sunshine Hospitals has been a revered practitioner in the field. His vast experiences in many other sections such as Critical Care & Sleep, Emergency and General Medicine has helped the hospital dealing with some complex cases before. He is trained in interventions like Bronchoscopy, Thoracoscopy, EBUS (Endobronchial Ultrasound) and Rigid Bronchoscopy. Overall Dr J.Raghunath Reddy offers a wide range of expertise and treatment solutions in Pulmonology.
About Sunshine Hospitals: