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Tuberculosis (from Latin tuberculum - tubercle, English tuberculosis) is an infectious disease caused by tuberculous microbacteria. Most often it affects the lungs, but in some cases it can also affect other parts of the body: the skeletal system, lymph nodes, spine, lining of the brain. It is characterized by the formation of inflammatory changes that look like small tubercles and tend to acquire a chronic course over time.
Tuberculosis is transmitted by airborne droplets from person to person by coughing, talking, kissing, sneezing, which is why in the old days pulmonary tuberculosis was called consumption.
For a long time, it can proceed in a latent form, without causing obvious symptoms. In an active form, symptoms such as fever, weight loss, night sweats, and general weakness appear. The pulmonary form causes cough, shortness of breath, pulmonary bleeding. Animals, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent, are also susceptible to tuberculosis bacteria.
Tuberculosis is a disease of disadvantaged groups of the population. One of the most common myths is that Koch's wand is selective in its preferences; only homeless people, alcoholics, and drug addicts are susceptible to infection. But the practice of recent years proves the erroneousness of this statement: literally 10-15 years ago, tuberculosis could still be attributed to social diseases, but recently it overstepped the designated social restrictions and moved into the category of infectious diseases. According to statistics, the share of average citizens from quite prosperous social strata among the infected is approximately 50%. The prevalence of this myth leads to the fact that many do not want to admit the possibility of infection, fearing to attract sidelong glances from others, and turn to doctors with an already running active form of the disease, thereby contributing to its spread.
Prisons contribute to the spread of tuberculosis. This statement is not without foundation: the incidence rate in prisons is indeed 7 - 8 times higher than outside their walls. But about a third of all cases of infection are detected in the first days of being arrested in pre-trial detention cells - people end up in prison, being already infected.
Tuberculosis spreads from person to person as easily as the flu. This is not true. The onset of the disease is possible only in case of prolonged contact with a bacteriological excretory (carrier of the active form of the disease) in a closed room: a hospital ward, an apartment, a prison cell. The likelihood of contracting tuberculosis from a short-term single contact on the bus or, for example, standing in line for food is extremely small. Observance of the necessary precautions makes contact with a person with tuberculosis practically safe.
Antibiotics can completely cure tuberculosis. Antibiotics have been used to treat tuberculosis since 1944, when streptomycin was first tested on patients infected with Koch's bacillus. This positive result led to the fact that antibiotics began to be actively used to combat tuberculosis. The virus, in turn, did not remain in debt and reacted to such treatment with an active mutation. In recent years, more and more bactericidal strains resistant to certain anti-tuberculosis antibiotics have been recorded by doctors. The so-called multidrug-resistant, drug-resistant form of tuberculosis is detected in about 15% of those infected. About 5% of these patients do not respond to antibiotics at all; treatment of the rest is ineffective and expensive.
Tuberculosis can be left untreated. This is the opinion of people whose disease is mild and asymptomatic. According to statistics, 21% of patients tend to distrust doctors and ignore prescribed treatment. There are also those who are trying to benefit from the current situation - in accordance with the existing legislation, a person who has been suffering from an open form of tuberculosis for six months has the right to apply for a separate housing. At the same time, such a negligent attitude towards one's own health can lead to the fact that the disease will develop into a multi-resistant form, even if initially it was not such and it will no longer be possible to help such a person.
Traditional medicine can cure tuberculosis. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There is currently no adequate alternative to drug treatment. All sorts of general strengthening and health-supporting procedures will undoubtedly be useful, but a complete cure is possible only if all medical recommendations are followed.
A good fluorogram is a guarantee of the absence of tuberculosis. This is not always true. According to the results of the study of the World Union to Fight Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, 24% of the doctors participating in the experiment could not recognize tuberculosis on the fluorogram provided to them, 5% did not determine its infectious form, 17% diagnosed tuberculosis in healthy people. Accurate diagnosis is possible only with the use of a smear microscopy of the examined patient, which makes it possible to determine the presence of microbacteria both at the initial stage of infection and in the active form of the disease.
The responsibility for the spread of tuberculosis lies on the shoulders of doctors. In fact, in this case, the position of the patient himself, the degree of his consciousness and responsibility to society is much more important. Not all people are fully aware of how dangerous infection with tuberculosis is and what it is fraught with for the patient himself and his environment. This leads to non-compliance with the prescribed regimen, and sometimes a complete refusal of treatment. According to statistics, in 2006 only 24% of patients completed the required course of treatment in full.
The patient has the right to decide for himself whether to be treated or not. Undoubtedly, everyone has freedom of choice and society is obliged to reckon with his decision. But when it comes to such a dangerous infectious disease as tuberculosis, the interests of not only the patient himself, but also those around him are affected. If a patient refuses treatment for any reason, he should at least be isolated. In some countries, in accordance with the law on the epidemiological safety of the population, patients are responsible for refusing treatment, in others, the legislation provides for compulsory hospitalization.
Anyone can get TB, but not me. We all believe that tuberculosis is a disease of homeless people and prisoners, that it will never affect us. But often we live next to sick people, not even knowing about their disease. And often the patients themselves do not know that they are infected. Most often, infection with Koch's bacillus occurs in people with weakened immune systems or who have had an infectious disease. Each of us is at risk.