With the advent of antibiotics, a person managed to control such a common and dangerous infectious disease as tuberculosis (the old name – consumption). Nevertheless, it remains on the list of global threats to humanity in the XXI century.
What is tuberculosis, the causative agent of the disease?
Tuberculosis is a chronic infectious bacterial disease caused by the causative agent Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (better known as Koch’s bacillus).
This microorganism was first identified by the German scientist Robert Koch in 1882, but the disease itself has been known for a long time. The researchers found traces of mycobacteria of tuberculosis even in the remains of ancient Egyptian mummies. These microorganisms are highly resilient in the environment. In a humid and dark place at a temperature of 23 ° C, they can persist for up to 7 years, in the dark and dry – up to 10-12 months, in the dry and light – about 2 months.
In water the stick lives up to 5 months, in soil – up to 6 months, in raw milk – up to 2 weeks, in cheese and butter – about a year, on pages of books – about 3 months. However, these bacteria die under the influence of substances containing chlorine, tertiary amines, hydrogen peroxide, as well as under exposure to ultraviolet. They can take low hazardous L-forms, which are present in the human body, but do not cause acute process.
Stages of the disease
There are three stages of tuberculosis development: primary; latent tuberculosis;
active tuberculosis: primary; latent tuberculosis; active tuberculosis.
There is also a distinction between open and closed forms. In the first case, the disease is pronounced, the bacteria are easily detected in sputum, feces, and the patient is a danger to others in terms of infection. The closed form is not dangerous for others. Tuberculosis of the lungs is most common, but the infection may also affect the bones, joints, genitourinary system, intestines, peritoneum, cerebral membranes, CNS, peripheral lymph nodes, skin (scrofula).
Pathways of pathogen transmission:
- airborne – when sneezing and coughing, the bacteria find themselves in the air that healthy people breathe in. In addition, the microorganisms settle in the dust and remain there for a long time;
- alimentary – by eating contaminated products – milk, eggs, etc. However, in this case, more bacteria are needed compared to airborne droplets;
- contact – when the damaged skin comes into direct contact with healthy skin or through the conjunctiva of the eye, but this is rarely observed;
- during the period of the mother’s intrauterine development – the fetus is infected through the placenta, but this is also rare.
Symptoms, clinical manifestations
In the early stages, tuberculosis is almost asymptomatic. As it develops, the patient’s condition worsens, but no specific symptomatology is observed. Clinical signs – increased fatigue, weakness, sharp weight loss without visible reasons, temperature 37-38 ° C, not falling for a long time, night sweating. The face becomes pale, and the cheeks appear blush. Tuberculosis in children progresses much faster than in adults due to undeveloped immune system.
The pulmonary form of tuberculosis is accompanied by cough. At first, it is not strong, but its intensity increases with time. If it lasts more than three weeks, you should see a doctor immediately. In the beginning, the cough is dry, it is seizure-like, especially at night and in the morning. Later begins to secrete yellow-green phlegm, and in the cavernous stage there is hemoptysis.
In case of TB of cerebral membranes and brain, sleep disorders and headaches are added to the symptoms of general intoxication, the intensity of which gradually increases. Then, occipital muscle stiffness, symptoms of Kernig and Brudzinski, neurological disorders appear.
The symptoms of digestive tract tuberculosis are similar to other diseases of this department: dyspepsia, abdominal pain, and later – blood in the feces. Affection of bones and joints is similar to arthritis, kidneys – has symptoms of jade: pain in the back, blood in the urine. In case of skin tuberculosis, there are dense nodules under the epidermis, which increase and burst with the release of curd mass.
Tuberculosis treatment, prognoses
Timely detected tuberculosis can be treated with antibiotics. Usually, 4-5 drugs are prescribed, which should be taken strictly according to the doctor’s prescription scheme.
There are first-line drugs, the most effective ones, and second-line drugs, the reserve ones. If the disease is suspected, doctors may prescribe 1-2 medications for prevention.
Usually, positive results are achieved in six months of active treatment. During this period, foci of infection heal, symptoms disappear, the disease becomes a closed form.
Patients with open form are placed in TB dispensary. There, until the separation of bacteria is stopped, they are treated by physicians-phthysiologists. But full healing takes about a year, and sometimes it takes more time. If there is no therapy, the death rate from TB is 50%.