What is Mycobacterium Tuberculosis?

Meshell Powell

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the name given to the bacteria that causes the human form of the disease referred to as tuberculosis. Common symptoms among those who have been infected with mycobacterium tuberculosis include fever, cough, and extreme fatigue. If not properly treated, infection with mycobacterium tuberculosis can be fatal, and it is a leading cause of death by disease throughout the world. In many parts of the world, a vaccine aimed at preventing infection by mycobacterium tuberculosis is used, although the effectiveness of this vaccine is highly debated. Treatment for those who have been infected usually consists of a combination of several different prescription medications.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a petri dish.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a petri dish.

The lungs are the most commonly affected organs in those with tuberculosis, although other organs may be affected as well. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a contagious bacteria transmitted to others through air droplets coming from a cough or sneeze from an infected person. This bacteria can sometimes lie dormant for years before resurfacing and causing illness.

Coughing is one of the main symptoms of tuberculosis.
Coughing is one of the main symptoms of tuberculosis.

Coughing is often one of the first signs of tuberculosis. Phlegm or blood may sometimes be produced by the cough. Fever and nausea often accompany the cough, and the patient may be extremely tired and achy. Chest pain, wheezing, and difficulty breathing are also common in those who have been infected with mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Treatment for tuberculosis generally involves taking a combination of several different oral medications. These medications may need to be taken at varying times throughout the day, and some patients may have difficulty taking several different medications throughout the day, although it is vitally important to take these medications exactly as prescribed. This type of therapy may have to be continued for several months before a complete recovery takes place. In extreme cases, the patient may need to be hospitalized until symptoms improve and the affected person is no longer contagious to others.

Tuberculosis symptoms may begin to improve within a couple of weeks or so of treatment, but therapy must continue for as long as prescribed by a doctor. As long as the disease is diagnosed early and treatment is begun right away, a complete recovery is very likely. Potential complications associated with tuberculosis may include a rash, vision changes, or an orange or brown tint to urine and tears. Any bothersome symptoms should always be discussed with a doctor so that any complications or new symptoms can be treated as soon as possible.

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