What Is Tuberculosis? What Causes Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that is caused by a bacterium calledMycobacterium tuberculosis. TB primarily affects the lungs, but it can also affect organs in the central nervous system, lymphatic system, and circulatory system among others. The disease was called "consumption" in the past because of the way it would consume from within anyone who became infected.

According to Medilexicon`s medical dictionary, tuberculosis is "A specific disease caused by infection withMycobacterium tuberculosis, the tubercle bacillus, which can affect almost any tissue or organ of the body, the most common site of the disease being the lungs."

When a person becomes infected with tuberculosis, the bacteria in the lungs multiply and cause pneumonia along with chest pain, coughing up blood, and a prolonged cough. In addition, lymph nodes near the heart and lungs become enlarged. As the TB tries to spread to other parts of the body, it is often interrupted by the body's immune system. The immune system forms scar tissue or fibrosis around the TB bacteria, and this helps fight the infection and prevents the disease from spreading throughout the body and to other people. If the body's immune system is unable to fight TB or if the bacteria breaks through the scar tissue, the disease returns to an active state with pneumonia and damage to kidneys, bones, and the meninges that line the spinal cord and brain. 

TB is generally classified as being either latent or active. Latent TB occurs when the bacteria are present in the body, but this state is inactive and presents no symptoms. Latent TB is also not contagious. Active TB is contagious and is the condition that can make you sick with symptoms. 

TB is a major cause of illness and death worldwide, especially in Africa and Asia. Each year the disease kills almost 2 million people. The disease is also prevalent among people with HIV/AIDS.

Global tuberculosis campaign threatened by multi-drug resistance

In October 2012, Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Stop TB Department, warned thatthe number of people becoming infected with MDT-TB (multi-drug-resistant) tuberculosis has risen considerably. He added that too few are being diagnosed and treated.

The global campaign to reduce TB infections by half by 2015 could be seriously jeopardized by MDT-TB.

We are now at a crossroads, Dr. Raviglione emphasized - either we eradicate TB in our lifetime, or the disease becomes increasingly resistant, harder to treat, and gains ground.

In March 2013 WHO, warned about a serious funding shortage. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO warned that without expanded treatment and funding, the global fight against TB will be seriously undermined. Dr. Chang said "We are treading water at a time when we desperately need to scale up our response to MDR-TB. We have gained a lot of ground in TB control through international collaboration, but it can easily be lost if we do not act now."

What causes tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is ultimately caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis that is spread from person to person through airborne particles. It is not guaranteed, though, that you will become infected with TB if you inhale the infected particles. Some people have strong enough immune systems that quickly destroy the bacteria once they enter the body. Others will develop latent TB infection and will carry the bacteria but will not be contagious and will not present symptoms. Still others will become immediately sick and will also be contagious.

What are the symptoms of tuberculosis?

Most people who become infected with the bacteria that cause tuberculosis actually do not present symptoms of the disease. However, when symptoms are present, they include unexplained weight loss, tiredness, fatigue, shortness of breath, fever, night sweats, chills, and a loss of appetite. Symptoms specific to the lungs include coughing that lasts for 3 or more weeks, coughing up blood, chest pain, and pain with breathing or coughing.

How is tuberculosis diagnosed?

Tuberculosis diagnosis usually occurs after a combination of skin, blood, and imaging tests. 

The most common diagnostic test is a simple skin test called the Mantoux test. The Mantoux test consists of a small amount of purified protein derivative (PPD) tuberculin that is injected into the forearm. After 48 to 72 hours, a doctor or nurse looks for a reaction at the injection site; a hard, raised red bump usually indicates a positive test for TB. Blood tests may also be used to determine whether TB is active or latent (inactive), and microscopic sputum analyses or cultures can find TB bacteria in the sputum. 

Chest x-rays and computer tomography (CT) scans are also used to diagnose TB. If the immune system traps the TB bacteria and creates scar tissue, this tissue and the lymph nodes may harden like stone in a calcification process. This results in granuloma (rounded marble-like scars) that often appear on x-rays and CT scans. However, if these scars do not show any evidence of calcium on an x-ray, they can be difficult to distinguish from cancer.

Who gets tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is spread from person to person through tiny droplets of infected sputum that travel through the air. If an infected person coughs, sneezes, shouts, or spits, bacteria can enter the air and come into contact with uninfected people who breath the bacteria into their lungs. 

Although anyone can become infected with TB, some people are at a higher risk, such as:

  • Those who live with others who have active TB infections
  • Poor or homeless people
  • Foreign-born people who come from countries with endemic TB
  • Older people, nursing home residents, and prison inmates
  • Alcoholics and intravenous drug users
  • Those who suffer from malnutrition
  • Diabetics, cancer patients, and those with HIV/AIDS or other immune system problems
  • Health-care workers
  • Workers in refugee camps or shelters

How is tuberculosis treated?

Treatment for TB depends on the whether the disease is active of latent. If TB is in an inactive state, an antibiotic called isoniazid (INH) is prescribed for six to twelve months. INH is not prescribed to pregnant women, and it can cause side effects such as liver damage and peripheral neuropathy

Active TB is treated with INH as well as drugs such as rifampin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide. It is also not uncommon for TB patients to receive streptomycin if the disease is extensive. Drug therapies for TB may last many months or even years. 

If a patient has a drug-resistant strain of TB, several drugs in addition to the main four are usually required. In addition, treatment is generally much longer and can require surgery to remove damaged lung tissue. 

The largest barrier to successful treatment is that patients tend to stop taking their medicines because they begin to feel better. It is important to finish medications in order to completely eradicate the TB bacteria from the body.

In December 2012, Sirturo (bedaquiline) was approved as part of a combination therapy for adults with multi-drug resistant TB. According to the FDA, bedaquiline was the first TB drug to be approved in the USA in forty years.

Vitamin C helps destroy drug-resistant tuberculosis

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, reported in the journalNature Communications (May 2013 issue) that vitamin C, when added to existing TB medications, can shorten treatment duration.

The team say that their finding may change how new TB medications are designed.

The scientists say they had been analyzing how TB bacteria become resistant to a first line drug for TB called isoniazid when they made their surprising discovery.

Team leader, William Jacobs, Jr., Ph.D., explained that they had noticed that the TB bacteria that were resistant to isoniazid were lacking in mycothiol (a molecule). "We hypothesized that TB bacteria that can't make mycothiol might contain more cysteine, an amino acid. So, we predicted that if we added isoniazid and cysteine to isoniazid-sensitive M. tuberculosis in culture, the bacteria would develop resistance. Instead, we ended up killing off the culture - something totally unexpected."

Dr. Jacobs believes that cysteine helps destroy TB bacteria by acting as a reducing agent that elicits the creation of free radicals, which can damage DNA.

Jacobs, said "To test this hypothesis, we repeated the experiment using isoniazid and a different reducing agent - vitamin C. The combination of isoniazid and vitamin C sterilized the M. tuberculosis culture. We were then amazed to discover that vitamin C by itself not only sterilized the drug-susceptible TB, but also sterilized MDR-TB and XDR-TB strains."

How can tuberculosis be prevented?

There is a vaccine available for tuberculosis called the BCG vaccine that is used in several parts of the world where TB is common.This vaccine usually protects children and infants from the disease, but adults can still get TB after being vaccinated as children. 

Better methods of preventing tuberculosis or TB relapses include eating a healthful diet that takes care of your immune system, getting a TB test regularly if you work or live in a high risk environment, and finishing TB medications. To prevent transmitting the disease to others if you are infected, stay home, cover your mouth, and ensure proper ventilation. 


Saudi Arabia king orders 1,345-pound man to be airlifted from home and flown to hospital

Officials prepare him for the plane ride on a special 'rescue bed.'

Khalid Mohsen Shaeri is removed from his Jazan apartment with a forklift.

A Saudi Arabia man who may be the heaviest person in the world is now getting proper medical treatment — thanks to his king.
Khalid Mohsen Shaeri, who weighs 1,345 pounds, was extracted from his Jazan home and airlifted to a medical facility in the capital city of Riyadh on Monday,

Shaeri is lowered from the building during an operation that was six months in the making.

King Abdullah gave the green light for officials to destroy part of the building so that they could airlift Shaeri out of the second-floor apartment using a forklift.

The operation was tough to plan because Shaeri lives on the second floor of his building.

The king also flew in a special "rescue bed" from the U.S. to make Shaeri's ambulance trip more comfortable, the Independent reported.

The 20-year-old Shaeri weighs 1,345 pounds, and likely will have surgery soon.

Shaeri was taken to the King Fahd Medical City facility once arriving in the capital and is expected to undergo surgery soon, according to Arab News.
The Red Cross, Saudi Arabia's health ministry and military personnel all took part in the expensive operation, which reportedly took six months of preparation.

Shaeri is put on a special plane for his flight to the capital.

Shaeri is taken onto the plane en route to the King Fahd Medical City facility.

Shaeri is taken onto the plane en route to the King Fahd Medical City facility.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia signed off on the expensive trip.


King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia signed off on the expensive trip.

At the moment, the 20-year-old Shaeri is not recognized by Guinness World Records as the heaviest person in the world. That distinction belongs to Manuel Uribe of Mexico, who weighed 1,235 pounds in 2006. By last year, Uribe had lost more than 200 pounds.

Officials prepare him for the plane ride on a special 'rescue bed.'

Officials prepare him for the plane ride on a special 'rescue bed.'


New drugs for hard-to-treat childhood cancers

The drug seems to be effective against every type of cancer cell. (Reuters)

Scientists have developed a whole new class of drugs that, for the first time, targets the structure of the cancer cell, paving way for new treatments to tackle the disease.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) demonstrated that the therapy is effective in two types of cancers in the animal model - neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects children, and melanoma, skin cancer.

"Our drug causes the structure of the cancer cell to collapse - and it happens relatively quickly. We've been surprised and excited by the potential of this treatment," said lead study author, Professor Peter Gunning, from UNSW Medicine.

The drug seems to be effective against every type of cancer cell.

The work could lead to an entirely new type of chemotherapy, which could have more positive outcomes for hard-to-treat cancers and have fewer long-term side effects for survivors.

"Attacking the architecture of the cancer cell has long been an obvious target, but until now, attempts have failed because the building blocks of the structure of the cancer cell are also used to build the heart and muscle, so the toxicity was unacceptable," said the first author on the paper, Dr Justine Stehn from the Oncology Research Unit, in the School of Medical Sciences.

But the team recognised there was a second "building block", the protein tropomyosin, in the cancer cell structure that was sufficiently different from those in the heart and muscle, which could be safely targeted.

The study was published in journal Cancer Research.

Black pepper - more health benefits than you know!

We use it to spice up our omelette, or add that extra zing to Indian dishes, but did you know that humble black pepper can add a lot more to your food than just flavour. Here is a list of its top 10 benefits.

Helps prevent cancer:According to a study carried out by the University of Michigan Cancer Center, black pepper was found to prevent the development of breast cancer tumors. They found that the piperinecontent of black pepper plays a key role in preventing cancers. It further stated that when combined with turmeric its anticancer properties are heightened. Apart from the piperine, black pepper also contains Vitamin C, Vitamin A, flavonoids, carotenes and other anti-oxidants that help remove harmful free radicals and protect the body from cancers and diseases. Other studies have suggested its efficacy in stalling the progression of skin cancers and bowel and colon cancer as well. Add a teaspoon of pepper powder to your food once a day. It is better that you eat freshly ground pepper rather than adding it to a dish while cooking.

Helps in digestion: The piperine content of black pepper makes it a great digestive. It stimulates the taste buds to signal the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid. This acid is essential to digest proteins and other foods in the stomach, which when left undigested cause flatulence, indigestion, diarrhoea, constipation and acidity. The excess hydrochloric acid secreted helps in preventing these conditions. To aid in digestion, add a tablespoon (depending on the number of servings being prepared) of freshly ground pepper powder to your meal, while cooking. It will add to the flavour of the dish and keep your stomach healthy.

Helps you lose weight: Black pepper is great in aiding the proper assimilation (extraction of all the nutrients) of food. Moreover, its outer layer which contains potentphytonutrients stimulates the breakdown of fat cells. It also promotes sweating and urination and is a great way to get rid of excess water and toxins from the body. All these activities collectively help in weight loss. For effective weightloss, just sprinkle pepper over your food. Do not eat too much of the spice, it can cause severe side effects.

Relieves gas: Known for its carminative properties (a substance that prevents the formation of gas) black pepper is great to relieve discomfort caused due to flatulence and colicky pain. Adding pepper to your meals instead of chili powder will help relieve flatulence.

Can give you clear skin: Apart from a great way to help you sweat and release all the toxins from your skin, it acts a great exfoliant. Pepper when crushed and added to a face scrub, helps slough off dead skin, stimulates circulation and helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the skin. The antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties help keep the skin safe from infections like acne.

Beats dandruff: Ditch those anti dandruff shampoos, try using pepper instead. Because of its antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties, pepper is great to get rid of dandruff. Mix a teaspoonful of crushed black pepper in a cup of curd. Mix well and apply on the scalp. Leave in for about half an hour. Rinse out your hair well. Do not use shampoo at this stage. Wash your hair with shampoo the next day. Make sure you do not use too much pepper, it may cause your scalp to burn.

Clears up a stuffy nose and relieves cough: Due to its antibacterial properties, black pepper is a very effective natural remedy to cure colds and coughs. Its warm, spicyflavour also helps loosen phlegm and relieve a stuffy nose. Try sprinkling freshly ground pepper on hot soup or rasam. It will immediately loosen up the phlegm and help you breathe easier.

Helps people with anorexia: Black pepper is known to improve digestion and stimulate the taste buds. Because of this property, it is a great natural remedy for people with anorexia (a condition where the person does not eat) by helping them regain their appetite. Adding a little pepper to their food, will go a long way in resolving anorexia.

Helps the body use nutrients more efficiently: Black pepper is known to have properties that help enhance bioavailability. This means that it helps in the proper transport and absorption of nutrients from food. This property also helps drugs work more efficiently.

Is a natural anti-depressant: The Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology reported that the compound piperine in black pepper increases the cognitive function of the brain and helps beat depression. It was also found that pepper eaten on a regular basis helps the brain function properly. Add it to your daily meal, or eat it as seasoning on a salad. Pepper in any form can help make you smarter and less depressed.

So, the next time you want to spice up your meal, use pepper. It will not only add to the flavour, it has the potential to make you happier.
Source .. dna india

Hepatitis C patients lack access to affordable treatment and care

On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day on Thursday, legal experts, doctors and members of various non-government organisations expressed concern at the growing rate of Hepatitis B and C.

“In India, the prevalence of Hepatitis C is estimated to be in the range of 1.8-2.5 per cent. Studies conducted in different regions show that the prevalence of Hepatitis C among people who inject drugs ranges from 33 per cent, in places including Amritsar and Delhi, to almost 95 per cent in Manipur. Patients living with Hepatitis C lack access to affordable and appropriate treatment and care,” said noted lawyer Anand Grover.

Speaking at a press conference, he added that the failure of the Union Health Ministry to start prevention and treatment efforts is driving this hidden epidemic to grow in India. “It is time to hold the government accountable for protecting both public health and the right to health,” said Mr. Grover.

AIIMS assistant professor in the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre Dr. Ravindra Rao said that cost-effective measures of preventing the infection among those most vulnerable should be urgently scaled up in India and be made available to all. “This will ensure prevention of not only Hepatitis C but HIV as well,” he added.

The group also noted that Hepatitis C can be treated and cured with newer drugs in the pipeline, which will simplify the treatment regimen and improve cure rates. All patients, including people who inject drugs, must have access to these medicines. Yet numerous hurdles, from healthcare-setting discrimination to drug prices, still need to be overcome so that access to treatment is equitable and does not overlook people who use drugs.
Source - THE HINDU

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