Is tuberculosis contagious? What precaution needs to be taken from an infected person

Tuberculosis or TB is a contagious disease caused by bacteria that mostly affects the lungs, although it can affect other parts of the body as well. Inhalation of particles of infected sputum in the air can result in tuberculosis. The bacteria are released in the air when an individual infected with the disease coughs, spits or sneezes. The air may then be inhaled by people nearby, resulting in a spread of the disease. As the inhaled bacteria enter the lung, they grow and cause a lung infection. The infection usually occurs in the upper region of the lungs. The bacteria can spread to other parts of the body as well, but the immune system is able to combat this by forming a scar tissue around the bacteria, thereby isolating it. In some cases, the immune system may not be strong enough to restrict the bacteria and as such the infection can spread through the body.

The symptoms of TB may develop several months after the bacteria enter the lungs. The usual signs of TB are tiredness, weakness, fever, weight loss, and night sweats. As the infection progresses, chest pain, continual coughing up of sputum, breathlessness and appearance of blood in the sputum can also result. If the TB has spread to other parts of the body, the symptoms will differ depending on the organs that have been affected. The precautionary measures against TB include using face masks when in the vicinity of people who have been infected by the disease, avoiding enclosed or stuffy spaces when in the company of affected individuals and encouraging infected individuals to follow and adhere to the entire course of treatment. There is also a vaccine for prevention of TB called the BCG which is administered to children. However, this may not be enough to prevent TB from developing in adulthood following exposure to the bacteria. Ensuring that your immune system remains healthy is also very important in preventing TB. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise daily, and get sufficient sleep in order to keep your body healthy. If you are at risk of developing TB, it is advisable to get tested. If latent TB is detected, a course of medication will be prescribed which will prevent active TB from developing. It is also recommended that affected individuals stay home from work and avoid being in the presence of others at least during the initial weeks of treatment. Also allow proper ventilation by keeping windows open and letting in fresh air.

answered by M W

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