Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease caused by the mycobacterium tuberculosis virus. This virus commonly attacks the lungs, the circulatory system, the nervous system, the lymphatic system and the skeletal system. Widespread in the United States in the first half of the 20th century, it has unfortunately made a comeback worldwide, with as many as one-third of the world's population carrying a dormant tuberculosis virus.
Symptoms when the virus goes active include dry coughing, general fatigue, fever, rapid weight loss, night chills, breathing problems and coughing up blood. If the virus moves into the skeletal, the patient's spine will be affected. Left untreated, mortality is around 75%.
Effective treatment of tuberculosis requires medical attention and prescription medication taken over at least a six month time period. No alternative remedies or over the counter medication has proven effective in eradicating TB. A doctor will most likely prescribe such anti tuberculosis drugs as rifampicin, ethambutol, pyrazinmide and isoniazid for the first two months of treatment. For the next four months of treatment, isoniazid and rifampicin are the preferred prescriptive drugs; these will be taken regularly until the symptoms have diminished.
During treatment, patients are usually confined to home and must wear a special breathing mask if venturing outside. Because tuberculosis is such a highly communicable disease, the law and public health safety requires that TB patients remain isolated from the rest of the population. Although patients should not interact with those not infected outside their homes, fresh air is actually helpful in the treatment process, so patients should keep their windows open during clement weather to enjoy fresh breezes or install an air purifying unit in their homes. Any sort of air pollution, whether it is smog or cigarette smoke, should be avoided at all cost during the treatment period for TB.
Because the regimen of tuberculosis medication affects performance of the liver, TB patients should increase their consumption of Vitamin B-6 to help counteract these side effects. Enjoying a daily diet rich in protein, fiber and fresh foods high in vitamin and mineral content, is also very helpful in making a complete recovery.
Once a month during the six month treatment period a liver function test is mandated, along with testing of a sputum sample to determine if the virus is still active or if the course of medication can be suspended.