<p></p><p>March 24th commemorates the fight against Tuberculosis (TB), considered to be one of the deadliest infectious diseases globally. Striving to be free from the TB epidemic by 2035, Pakistan still has a long way to go before it achieves that goal. </p><p>Pakistan ranks 5th amongst the high burden countries in the world affected by TB. The prevalence, incidence, and mortality per 100,000 population per year from TB in Pakistan are 348, 276, and 34 respectively, therefore raising awareness and educating the public about TB becomes ever so crucial to protect ourselves and the larger community against it.</p><p>Source: <a href="https://www.nih.org.pk/national-tb-control-program/"><em>National Institute of Health, Pakistan</em></a></p><p><strong>
</strong></p><p><strong>Tuberculosis and its symptoms</strong></p><p>According to Dr Faisal Mahmood, Section Head Infectious Diseases at the Aga Khan University Hospital, “Tuberculosis is a type of bacteria which usually causes an infection in the lungs. However, this can also infect other parts of the body including the abdomen, brain, bones, etc."</p><p>TB consists of two types, In latent TB the bacteria which causes the infection is inactive and does not cause symptoms. While Active TB causes symptoms, and can also be transmitted from one person to another.</p><p>“While the infection spreads through the tiny droplets that are released into the air when one sneezes or coughs. The bacteria can travel long distances after someone coughs, therefore TB of the lungs is considered to be the most contagious."</p><p>Active tuberculosis is contagious and patients usually develop symptoms like coughing, chest pain, fever, and unintentional weight loss. The bacteria can travel long distances after someone coughs, so it's important to limit social interactions if diagnosed with TB.</p><p><strong>Prevention and Treatment</strong></p><p>Prevention and treatment for TB depend on the spread of infection, and the areas it has affected. “TB in lungs is the most common form of the disease, causing a chronic cough. While the disease may also lead to unexplained weight loss and low-grade fever," says Dr Faisal, adding that early detection of the disease is essential in treatment.</p><p> “Anyone with low-grade fever and cough or unexplained weight loss should see their physician, and if you are diagnosed with lung TB, make sure to stay in a well-ventilated room, only cough in a tissue paper and throw in a covered bin, make sure to take your medications and people taking care of you should not be known to have weak immunity." </p><p>Having said that, TB is completely curable using medications prescribed by your doctor. The usual length of treatment is 6 months though in certain types of TB this may be prolonged. The medication is readily available at government-designated treatment centers, AKUH being one of them.</p><p><strong>How to protect yourself?</strong></p><p>The best possible protection against the disease is provided by the vaccine available for infants and children. However, in certain circumstances, medication can also be used to prevent the disease.