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Signs of Tuberculosis
March 24th is World TB Day and it marks the occasion of the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by Robert Koch in the year 1882. It is indeed unfortunate that today, even 130 years later, close to 1.5 million people â€“ predominantly in the developing countries â€“ die of tuberculosis every year. Early detection is the key to a successful cure and we need to keep an eye out for the following signs of tuberculosis.
Cough and Fever
The tuberculosis bacilli mainly target the lungs; this causes persistent cough for more than three weeks despite taking medication. Some patients may also complain of severe pain in the chest while coughing or breathing, or cough out sputum or blood. TB also typically causes fever and this is often accompanied by chills and night sweats.
Unexplained, significant weight loss is yet another major symptom that could indicate infection by tubercular bacteria. Most infected persons will also notice a loss of appetite and this, combined with the weight loss can lead to a constant sense of fatigue.
Back Pain and Headaches
Tuberculosis may affect organs other than the lungs, too. If the brain or the spinal cord is affected, there may be back pain along with stiffness of the neck, headache, a sense of confusion and even seizures.
To diagnose tuberculosis, a doctor will first listen to how the lungs sound through a stethoscope and also check for a swelling of the lymph nodes. A skin test called the Mantoux test and a sputum test along with an X-ray can help to confirm the infection.
According to the World Health Organization, about 20 percent of global cases of TB are found in India. This is an alarming statistic for a disease that can be treated using the right drugs. On the occasion of World TB Day, let us be determined to keep an eye out for these symptoms in people around us to help reduce this burden.