Pulmonary Tuberculosis: Understanding symptoms, risks, treatment and prevention of TB | Health - Hindustan Times

Pulmonary Tuberculosis: Understanding symptoms, risks, treatment and prevention of TB

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
May 29, 2024 08:59 PM IST

Pulmonary Tuberculosis: Here's all you need to know about the signs and symptoms, risks, treatment and prevention of TB

Pulmonary tuberculosis or TB is a bacterial infection that mainly impacts the lungs and it is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacteria that spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, making it extremely contagious. In other words, Pulmonary tuberculosis is a very contagious respiratory disease which primarily affects the lungs and is a major public health concern worldwide.

Pulmonary Tuberculosis: Understanding symptoms, risks, treatment and prevention of TB (Photo by Vecteezy)
Pulmonary Tuberculosis: Understanding symptoms, risks, treatment and prevention of TB (Photo by Vecteezy)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Pratibha Dogra, Senior Consultant - Pulmonology at Marengo Asia Hospital in Gurugram, explained, “Pulmonary tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease that spreads via the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks, generating tiny and minute droplets containing TB bacteria. Anyone in close proximity may inhale these droplets, potentially resulting in illness. Though anybody can get pulmonary TB, but certain groups are more vulnerable, including those with compromised immune systems, such as those living with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or receiving immunosuppressive therapy.”

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Dr Deepak Prajapat, Senior Consultant - Pulmonology and Critical Care at Metro Hospital in Noida, shared that symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis can vary but typically include -

1. Persistent Coughing

2. Fever

3. Unintentional Weight loss

4. Night sweating

5. Breathlessness and shortness of breath

6. Hemoptysis (blood or blood-stained sputum)

Dr Pratibha Dogra elaborated -

1. Persistent cough: Pulmonary tuberculosis is frequently characterized by a persistent cough which lasts for around three weeks or more, with an accumulation of phlegm or blood.

2. Chest pain: The infection may also produce chest discomfort while coughing or inhaling heavily.

3. Fatigue and weakness: People with pulmonary tuberculosis may feel extremely tired and lack energy everytime.

4. Weight loss: The condition can cause an sudden and unexplained decrease of appetite and substantial weight loss.

5. Fever and night sweats: Common symptoms include a low-grade fever and profuse perspiration, especially at night.

6. Difficulty breathing: As the disease advancess, lung damage may cause severe breathing issues.

Risk factors:

Dr Deepak Prajapat revealed, “Numerous variables increase the likelihood of developing pulmonary TB. Diabetes, a disorder that hinders immune system function, makes people more susceptible to tuberculosis infection. Malnutrition, which reduces the body's ability to fight against bacterial invaders, also contributes to the higher risk.”

He added, “Furthermore, continuous close contact with someone who has an active tuberculosis infection increases the likelihood of being exposed to the infectious agent that causes the disease. Also, immunocompromised states, such as HIV/AIDS or the use of immunosuppressive medications, increase susceptibility to tuberculosis infection and its consequences by weakening the immune system's defense systems.”

Bringing her expertise to the same, Dr Pratibha Dogra said, “Several factors increase the chance of getting pulmonary TB, including a weakened immune system caused by diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, malnutrition, which can hinder the body's capacity to fight the TB bacterium. Prolonged close contact with someone who has active tuberculosis also raises the risk of transmission. Living or working in high-risk environments such as crowded place to live, nursing homes, and specific jobs like as healthcare professionals who are exposed to tuberculosis patients can increase the risk. Furthermore, substance abuse, including alcohol and narcotics, can damage the immune system and increase the risk of acquiring tuberculosis.”


Dr Deepak Prajapat informed, “Antitubercular medicines, or antibiotic combinations, are typically used to treat pulmonary tuberculosis. These drugs are generally given for several months in order to completely eliminate the bacteria from the body. Furthermore, supportive care is required to maintain proper nutrition and overall health throughout the treatment process. Doctors must closely monitor patients to ensure that treatment is effective and to control any potential medicine adverse effects.”


Dr Pratibha Dogra advised, “To prevent the spread of pulmonary tuberculosis, vaccination with the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is suggested for newborns and children in high-risk locations. This vaccine offers protection against severe forms of the disease. Early detection and fast, adequate treatment of active tuberculosis cases is also critical to preventing future spread. Infection control techniques such as appropriate ventilation, face mask use, and isolation of active tuberculosis patients in hospital settings can all help to lower the risk of transmission. Furthermore, using contact tracing to identify and screen persons who have had intimate contact with active tuberculosis patients is critical for early detection and treatment in order to avoid disease spread.”

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