Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that is caused by one or more strains of mycobacteria. The most common of these bacteria is mycobacterium tuberculosis, which was discovered in 1882. Most people who are infected do not suffer any symptoms, but 10% of infections progress to the active disease. Active tuberculosis commonly attacks the lungs and causes symptoms such as long lasting cough, bloody spit, fever, weight loss and night sweats. It spreads through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs, but only people with active tuberculosis can spread the disease. More than 50% of active tuberculosis cases that are left untreated result in the death of the patient. Let’s take a look at the treatment for this deadly disease.
What is the treatment for tuberculosis?
The treatment for tuberculosis can be quite difficult because the bacteria that causes the disease has a waxy outer coating, which prevents the entry of drugs. This means that a long course of antibiotics is usually necessary to treat the disease. The two most common antibiotics used are isoniazid and rifampicin. For those that have active tuberculosis, multiple antibiotics are used to ensure all of the bacteria are killed during treatment. Unfortunately, tuberculosis has shown a high level of antibiotic resistance and when a resistant strain is present up to 4 antibiotics are used for 18-24 months.
Did you know?
Drug resistant tuberculosis occurs because patients begin feeling better after about 2-3 months of starting their treatment. At this time some patients stop taking the drugs and any remaining bacteria are likely to be drug resistant. In 2007 a form of tuberculosis was discovered that is totally resistant to all of the currently used tuberculosis drugs.