World Tuberculosis Day: Busting 6 Common Myths About Tuberculosis

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world tuberculosis day busting 6 common myths about tuberculosis

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is to stay aware of all possible health hazards around us. Tuberculosis (TB) is one such threat that has continued to take a toll on humankind for more than 9,000 years. To commemorate this day when Dr. Robert Koch's discovered the bacteria causing TB, let us debunk the widespread myths around one of the oldest diseases.

Tuberculosis is a contagious disease that attacks the lungs and spreads through coughing. Data from World Health Organization suggests that TB is second only to HIV/AIDS as the leading global death caused by a single infectious agent.

India bears the world's highest burden of tuberculosis, with approximately 800 lives lost to this lethal infection every year. Delays in diagnosis and a lack of awareness are two major factors contributing to our country's growing number of tuberculosis cases.

On March 24th  every year, we observe World Tuberculosis Day in an effort to raise awareness of this illness. Yet, numerous myths surround Tuberculosis, which exacerbate the situation. People have misconceptions about its treatment and the type of infection, among other things. Let us break through the misinformation around TB to understand the disease better. 

Demystifying 6 Misbeliefs about Tuberculosis

1. Tuberculosis is a genetic/hereditary disease

There is no single gene that causes tuberculosis. Only an active bacteria named Mycobacterium tuberculosis can cause TB. It is spread when a patient with active TB coughs, laughs and sneezes. Also, TB residuals can remain dormant in people, and the symptoms might not even be noticeable right away. Symptoms of tuberculosis such as fever, cough, chest pain, night sweats, and weight loss may appear only in a mild form.

2. Only excessive smoking causes tuberculosis

This is incorrect since TB is caused solely by the mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. On the other hand, smoking is among the known lifestyle habits leading to tuberculosis. Smoking only aggravates the condition and makes treatment more difficult. As a result, quitting smoking is advised because any form of lung damage can put you at risk of infection and impair your ability to combat the actual TB bacteria.

3. Tuberculosis only affects the lungs

Although lung tuberculosis is the most common type of TB, the bacteria can affect other body parts as well. The bacterium has the same ability to affect a patient's kidneys, lymph nodes, brain, spinal cord, intestines, or heart's covering. Moreover, it can affect both men's and women's genital tracts, known as genital tuberculosis.

4. People vaccinated against BCG will not contract TB

BCG, or Bacille Calmette-Guerin, protects against certain severe forms of TB disease. For example, the vaccine protects children from meningitis and disseminated tuberculosis. It does not prevent systemic infection and, more importantly, it does not control the reactivation of latent pulmonary infection, which is the primary source of bacillary spread in the community. As a result, the vaccine's impact on preventing TB transmission is limited.

5. Tuberculosis is incurable

This is untrue; treatment of tuberculosis is possible. There are plenty of medications available today that help in combating TB. Doctors usually prescribe a combo of antibacterial medicines for 6–12 months for people who have an active infection. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ten drugs to treat tuberculosis (TB), as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis may require at least six drugs to combat the infection.

6. Once treated, tuberculosis cannot reoccur

For combating the infection, tuberculosis requires prompt treatment and management. However, if the course of medication is incomplete or the patient fails to take medicine as prescribed, the risk of disease relapse increases. This can exacerbate your condition as the bacteria develop resistance to the drugs, resulting in drug-resistant TB, which is more challenging to treat.

Final Thoughts

Tuberculosis is a toxic killer, but being well-informed can help you undertake adequate disease protection. Along with myths, awareness of warning signs is essential for timely detection. One of the most common symptoms of tuberculosis is low-grade fever, with the body temperature rising primarily in the evenings, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Remember that if tuberculosis is untreated, it can lead to death. The only way to treat this fatal illness is early diagnosis and timely medication. 

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only: Policy Assurance and Claims at the underwriter's discretion.



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