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Tuberculosis

Introduction

What is TB?

TB is a bacterial infection caused by tubercle bacilli. TB is an airborne disease which usually attacks the lungs. It can also affect other parts of the body such as brain, bones, lymph nodes, kidneys and skin. The bacteria are spread through the air in tiny droplets discharged in a cough by a person suffering from active (infectious) Tuberculosis of the lungs known as pulmonary TB.

Every year a total of 100 million people get infected with TB worldwide, 8 million develop active TB and 2 million die.

In 2003, 15,912 cases were detected in Malaysia and 966 die.

Signs and Symptoms

What are the symptoms of TB?

  • Cough lasting for 2 weeks or more
  • The sputum maybe blood stained
  • Fever often with sweating, usually in the evening or at night
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • There may be chest pain especially on coughing or deep breathing
  • Getting tired easily and feeling weak

What should I do If I have signs and symptoms of TB?

If you have the signs and symptoms of TB, you must get:

  • Your sputum tested at the nearest health clinic or hospital and/or
  • A chest x-ray

Diagnosis and treatment of TB are available at government health clinics or hospital.

Complications

Is TB dangerous?

If pulmonary TB is left undetected, it can also affect other parts of the body such as brain, bones, lymph nodes, kidneys and skin. Family members and others who are in close contact to TB patients are advised to do the necessary examination

Treatment

Is TB curable and what is the treatment?

TB is curable. Treatment of TB is by using the DOTS (Directly observed Treatment Short course) strategy which has been highly recommended by World Health Organization. It emphasizes:

  • Patient should take medication for 6 months
  • It consists initially of daily treatment for 2 months and medicines taken in the presence of trained medical staff
  • This is followed by treatment administered two times a week for 4 months and also under supervision by trained observer
  • If the treatment is followed regularly the patient can be cured completely

Prevention

What can I do to prevent TB?

There are many ways to prevent TB infection :

  1. BCG vaccination provides good protection to the child from dangerous forms of TB. It is given to newborn and school children in standard 1 if there is no scar.
  2. If you have cough lasting for 2 weeks or more, see the doctor as soon as possible
  3. Family members and others who are in close contact to TB patients are advised to do the necessary examination.
  4. Allow plenty of sunlight into your house because sunlight kills TB germs in the air.
  5. Open all your house windows during the day because good ventilation prevents TB from spreading.
  6. Practice healthy lifestyle and take a balanced diet

Support Group

  • Contact your nearest health office for further assistance.
  • The Malaysian Association for The Prevention of TB (MAPTB) or local TB association.

For more complete information :

Last reviewed : 26 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Fuad Hashim
Reviewed : Dr. Norhaya Mohd Razali