Tuberculosis (also called TB) is an infectious lung disease caused by bacteria. It most commonly affects the lungs, but it can involve any organ located in the human body. In earlier years, patients diagnosed with tuberculosis would die a slow death; today, though rarely diagnosed, the disease can be treated with antibiotics.
Bacteria (infected sputum) entering the body by breathing it in from the air is the primary cause of tuberculosis. These bacteria are released into the air if someone who has tuberculosis lung infection coughs or sneezes. If another person is very close by and breathes in this infected sputum, the disease can spread. One cannot get tuberculosis by touching, it is only transmitted from person to person by breastpin in the infected air.
When someone becomes infected with tuberculosis, symptoms may not appear for months. If the disease starts in the lungs, it will eventually infect other areas of the body. When this happens, one will feel weak, feverish and will experience flu-like symptoms. A loss of weight will generally follow. When the disease progresses, chest pain, coughing up sputum or blood and a shortness of breath also occur. The range and severity of symptoms will depend upon the organs that are affected by the spread of the disease.
In most modern societies, babies are now vaccinated with the BCG vaccine. This is the vaccine that offers moderate protection from developing tuberculosis. If a person is diagnosed with tuberculosis, antibiotics and medication will be administered. Hospitalization may be required. In more extreme cases, surgery on the lungs may be needed to help cure the disease.