According to the World Health Organization, 2 billion people have the tuberculosis bacterium and around 2 million people die each year because of this chronic but preventable infection.
Nearly 80 percent of the deaths annually occur in developing countries and 26 percent of the death could be prevented with proper treatment.
Tuberculosis usually affects the lungs but it can attack other organs of the body. So, what does tuberculosis do to the lungs? Initially when a person contract tuberculosis of the lungs, also known as pulmonary tuberculosis, there are hardly any symptoms. The initial infection is controlled by the immune system of the body and the infection, which is in the form of lesion, also known as tubercle, gets calcified. At this point in most people the infection is contained. However, in some people the disease returns after a years when the body's immune system is not functioning at optimum levels.
When the tuberculosis bacterium enters the body, it first affects the air passages of the lungs, known as pulmonary alveoli, where the bacterium replicates. However, the primary infection site is either the upper portion of the lower lobe of the lung or the lower portion of the upper lobe.
The bacterium attack large areas of the lungs, especially the upper portions. The tubercles in one area coalesce together and after some time they undergo necrosis to form a cavity. The cavity can be filled with pus and broken down tubercle particles, they can be firm or soft jelly like. Immaterial what the cavities look like, symptoms of tuberculosis include cough, bleeding from the lungs, fever, loss of appetite, loss of weight, night sweats and weakness.
A person having tuberculosis has to be treated with antibiotics for at least 6 months before the infection is cured.
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