Some of the commonest myths about tuberculosis (TB)

TB occurs only in the lungs and is called Pulmonary Tuberculosis (PTB). TB is diagnosed by testing your sputum and if the test is negative you don’t have to worry. There are other blood tests, and if they are negative you don’t have TB. The treatment of TB is four drugs for two months of which two drugs continue for an additional four month period, after which treatment is over. In reality, TB can affect any part of your body, from the scalp on your head to the nail on your foot.

Tuberculosis has several members of the mycobacteria family that includes typical mycobacteria, atypical mycobacteria and non- tubercular mycobacteria, besides others. These can come into contact with patients from sources as diverse as soil, water, contaminated and poorly cleaned surgical tools and instruments.

The diagnosis of Tuberculosis is based on laboratory, radiological and clinical findings and upto 30 percent patients with active disease may have essentially normal or inconclusive test results.

Tuberculosis is also a goog clinic mimic and can camouflage well. A large number of patients diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease have also got intestinal TB. Similarly, a significant number of women seeking treatment for infertility will show evidence of TB. TB affects, with grevious and life threatening consequences, brain, spine, genitourinary tract and joints of patients.

Infections that are drug sensitive require four to six drugs for complete remission. Infections that are drug resistant may require upto nine drugs for prolonged duration. It is therefore crucial to make early diagnosis and complete treatment for optimal outcomes.

The treatment regimen varies significantly for typical and atypical mycobacteria, and one of the reasons why patients go through prolonged suffering is a failure to recognise an atypical mycobacteria.
TB is an eminently treatable condition that can be resolved with minimal residue and leave patients to lead a good quality of life.

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