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6 myths about tuberculosis that should stop believing right away

Published on:18 July 2021, 09:30am IST
Several people neglect the symptoms of tuberculosis, and land in trouble due to negligence. Here, we help you separate facts from fiction regarding the condition.
Dr Arvind Kate
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Early intervention is a must to treat TB. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Currently, India is facing a tuberculosis pandemic, as the cases are rising at a rapid rate. Tuberculosis (TB) is fatal, if not treated at the right time. Hence, there should be enough awareness created regarding it.

TB occurs due to the mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. It not only affects the lungs but also your brain, kidneys, bowels, and bones. Long fasting gaps, inadequate sleep, stress as well as irregular eating habits can cause TB. Yes, you heard it right! India bears the burden of maximum TB patients, owing to delayed diagnosis and lack of awareness. It is one of the longest existing diseases in India and has resulted in the highest morbidity and mortality rates. 

It is also one of the most misunderstood diseases in the country, and there are many false notions attached to it. It is the need of the hour to get the facts right and clear all your doubts regarding TB.

Myth #1: TB tends to occur only in one’s lungs

Fact: Though it mostly initiates in the lungs, it also takes a toll on other body parts like the kidney, brain, and spine. The signs and symptoms may vary, as it affects different organs. TB that tends to occur outside the lungs can be termed extra-pulmonary tuberculosis. Hence, one requires immediate medical attention. When left untreated, the active TB impacts the lungs and spreads to the other body organs via the bloodstream.

Tuberculosis most commonly affects the lungs only. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Myth #2: TB is a genetic disease

Fact: No, this is false! TB is not hereditary and there is no role of your genes here. TB infection can catch anyone at any point of time in their life. It is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria and will require prompt treatment.

Myth #3: I don’t smoke, I will not get TB

Fact: Smoking is not the only risk factor associated with TB. Other factors such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), diabetes, and even kidney disease are responsible for its occurrence. Moreover, it also affects other organs like the brain, joints, and bones, spine, and eyes, apart from the lungs.

Myth #4: TB cannot be cured

Fact: Early diagnosis is the key to tackle TB. One will be able to fight TB, if he/she opts for timely interventions, takes medication, and goes for regular follow-ups. Doing so will enable you to lead a TB-free life.

TB drugs can kill all the TB bacteria in a person’s body. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Myth #5: Taking Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine will prevent TB

Fact: BCG vaccine will protect children from getting sick with severe tuberculosis. It is still not clear whether it will safeguard adults from TB.

Myth #6: How can I get TB as I stay in most hygienic conditions?

Fact: TB occurrence is to do more with immunity and inner defences, and not just hygiene. It can affect anyone.

Dr Arvind Kate Dr Arvind Kate

Dr Arvind Kate, Pulmonologist at Zen Multispecialty Hospital, Chembur