What is TB? Everything You Need to Know About Tuberculosis


What is TB? Everything You Need to Know About Tuberculosis

Do you know what is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is among the highest infectious disease killer globally, and India recorded the highest number of cases, with 26.9 lakh cases as per World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018. The National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme, led by the government, aims to focus efforts to fight this disease. According to the India TB Report 2020, 79,144 people died due to tuberculosis, based on data reports 2019. Tuberculosis was once a fatal disease when there was no proper treatment. Now, thanks to medical advancements, there are effective treatments available. Today, TB is a preventable and curable ailment.

The high number of TB cases in India is an alarming situation. Moreover, the massive healthcare costs and not having a health insurance policy can make things worse for an average family. Besides, the statistics of drug-resistant TB are also a reason to worry. The WHO has targeted to achieve full elimination of TB in several countries by 2050; it defines elimination as less than 1 case in one million per year. At present, the need of the hour is to ensure that people can access affordable and quality healthcare. For this reason, having health insurance cover is of utmost importance.

Here is all about tuberculosis treatment, causes, and prevention. 

Tuberculosis Symptoms

Tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs. It spreads from one person to another when an infected person coughs and sneezes. But do you know what is the first sign of tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis can be latent or active. In latent TB infection, the bacteria will remain in the body in an inactive state, causing no visible tuberculosis symptoms. A person with latent TB is not contagious. However, it can become an active TB. Active TB is a severe stage in which a person becomes sick, shows symptoms, and can spread the tuberculosis disease.

The common symptoms are:

  • Coughing that lasts for over three weeks
  • Chest pain or pain while breathing or coughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever, chills
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

Tuberculosis Causes

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by an infectious bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria primarily affect the lungs but can also affect other body parts, such as the kidneys, spine, and brain. Several factors contribute to the spread and development of tuberculosis:

Bacterial Transmission:

TB is mainly spread through the air when an infected person with active TB coughs, sneezes, speaks, or spits, releasing tiny droplets containing the bacteria. These droplets can be inhaled by others, leading to infection. Close and prolonged contact with an infected individual increases the risk of transmission.

Weakened Immune System:

People with weakened immune systems, such as those living with HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, or certain medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, cancer), are more susceptible to developing TB. The immune system plays a crucial role in fighting off the bacteria, and a compromised immune system makes it easier for the infection to take hold.

Overcrowded and Unsanitary Conditions:

Living in crowded places, such as slums or prisons, where ventilation is poor and inadequate hygiene practices, increases the risk of TB transmission. The bacteria can easily spread in such environments, as close contact with an infected person becomes more likely.

Lack of Access to Healthcare:

Limited access to healthcare services, including diagnostic tools and appropriate treatment, can contribute to the spread of TB. Delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment increase the chances of the infection progressing to a more severe form and potentially spreading to others.

Drug Resistance:

The misuse or incomplete use of antibiotics in treating TB can lead to the development of drug-resistant strains of the bacteria. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) are forms of the disease that are more challenging to treat, requiring longer and more complex treatment regimens.

Global Travel and Migration:

TB can be transmitted across geographical borders through travel and migration. People who move from areas with a high TB burden to low-burden areas can introduce the disease into new populations.

It's important to note that not everyone infected with M. tuberculosis develops active TB disease. Many people have latent TB infection, where the bacteria are present but not causing symptoms or spreading the disease. However, latent infection can progress to active TB if the immune system is compromised.

Knowing the Risk Factors

Our body’s immune system consistently fights diseases, so it has to be healthy and strong. A weakened immune system will not be effective in resisting the TB bacteria. Some medical conditions like kidney disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and some types of cancer and poor nutrition can lead to a weak immune system. Moreover, the risk is higher if one travels to an area with increased rates of tuberculosis. Tobacco use and environmental conditions are also other risk factors for tuberculosis.

Treatment and Prevention 

There are various medical tests, including a blood test, to diagnose TB. If left untreated, TB can become a life-threatening condition. However, through timely treatment, recovery is possible. In countries like India, vaccinations are recommended. The BCG vaccine is a TB vaccination presently available. 

Some of the ways of tuberculosis prevention include:

  • Getting timely vaccination, especially when travelling to a high-risk area
  • Following hygienic practices like covering cough or sneeze
  • Avoiding close contact with patients affected by the disease
  • Staying in well-ventilated rooms as TB germs spread quickly in closed spaces

Completing the medication is also vital, and one should not skip the doses or stop treatment abruptly. It will help prevent drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, which are more difficult to treat. 


The Indian government is aiming for the elimination of tuberculosis by the year 2025. Tuberculosis treatment and medical care are delivered through the public and private sector health providers. Under the National TB Elimination Programme, there has been a growth in free access to anti-TB drugs for patients. Yet, the expenses create a financial burden for the lakhs of people who depend on private healthcare for their treatment. 

Having a health insurance policy will offer you many benefits, including cashless medical treatment and annual health check-up that is crucial for the timely detection and prevention of any serious ailment. You can choose The coverage will be subject to policy terms and conditions.

Get the best health cover for your family today from Care Health Insurance. Visit our website for more details. 

>> Also Read: Busting 6 Common Myths About Tuberculosis

Disclaimer: The information given in this article is only for reference purposes. Underwriting of claims for Tuberculosis is subject to policy terms and conditions.

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