27 Interesting Facts About Tuberculosis And Its Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Statistics

Here are the top interesting facts about tuberculosis:

#1 Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that commonly affects the lungs. The bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) which cause this condition are spread from one individual to another through tiny droplets released into the air. However, only around 10 percent of people infected with this bacterium ever develop the disease.

#2 It most frequently affects the lungs, a condition with the medical term of pulmonary tuberculosis (PPT). When it affects parts of the human body besides the lungs, it is called extrapulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB).


#3 In the US, 9,272 TB cases were reported 2016. Among the 9,287 cases, 6,307 occurred among foreign-born people and 2,935 among U.S.-born people. In 2015, about 470 deaths were attributed to this disease. At the current rate of decline, the US will not reach the goal of elimination of this condition in this century.

#4 In Canada, there are approximately 1,600 new cases of this condition every year. In the United Kingdom, there are about 6,000 patients per year. In the EU, there were 32,000 estimated deaths from TB. However, since 2000, the average decline in the European Union was 5.4 percent a year.

#5 In 2016, 1.7 million died from TB and more than 10 million have this disease worldwide. More than 50 percent of deaths occurred in China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia,  and the Philippines. Among adults, it is 2nd only to the human immunodeficiency virus in causes of death by infectious disease.


#6 It is spread through the air when an active TB disease spreads the Mycobacterium t. bacterium by sneezing, coughing, speaking, shouting, or other people nearby breathing in the pathogenic bacteria.

#7 The chances of getting infected by this bacterium are increased for individuals that are in close contact with others who are infected. This includes:

  • individuals who work in institutions or facilities which house people who are at high risk for this condition, like – homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and residential homes for patients with HIV;
  • seniors;
  • children have a higher risk of developing the most severe forms of TB;
  • people living with HIV infection;
  • people who have immigrated from areas of the world with high rates of this disease;
  • injection drug users;
  • friends and family of a person with this disease.


#8 There are two types of this disease: active and latent.

#9 Active TB – the bacteria can be transmitted to others and do cause symptoms.

#10 Latent TB – the pathogenic bacteria cause no symptoms and are not contagious and remain in the body in an inactive state. It is not contagious. If the immune system fails to kill the infection, it can spread to the lungs.

#11 Among people with latent TB infection, approximately 5 percent develop the active form within the first 2 years. More importantly, another 5 percent may develop it after 2 years and within their lifetime.

#12 The following factors may play an important role in promoting the active form in people who have the inactive form:

  • radiotherapy;
  • pregnancy;
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus;
  • drugs that suppress the immune system, like – anticancer medications;
  • malnutrition;
  • long-term steroid use;
  • kidney disease;
  • conditions which suppress the immune system, like – AIDS or HIV;
  • neck or head cancer.


#13 Common symptoms include:

  • loss of appetite;
  • a cough for 21 days or longer;
  • night sweats;
  • weight loss;
  • lack of energy;
  • extreme tiredness;
  • a fever with sweating, especially at night;
  • high temperature.

#14 These signs and symptoms can have a variety of different causes, therefore, they are not always a sign of this disease.

#15 Symptoms of EPTB vary depending on which area of the body is infected and may include:

  • bone pain;
  • a stiff neck;
  • swelling of the abdominal cavity;
  • frequent urination;
  • blood in the urine;
  • mental changes;
  • lymph nodes;
  • kidney pain;
  • frequent urination;
  • pain in the joints;
  • nausea;
  • headaches;
  • paralysis of the legs;
  • spinal deformity;
  • lump in the scrotum;
  • infertility;
  • shortness of breath;
  • enlarged neck veins.


#16 The most commonly used diagnostic method for this condition is a skin test. Also, doctors can presumptively diagnose this disease by physical exam, history, and chest X-rays.


#17 It can be cured with treatment. Typically, a course of antibiotics is prescribed for up to 6 months.

#18 It is vital that patients who have this condition take the medicines precisely as prescribed by their healthcare professional. If they stop taking the medicine too soon, the bacteria may become resistant to those medicines.

#19 The latent form can re-activate and cause an active form. In this case, there are three treatment options:

  • rifapentine and isoniazid – the sufferer takes both of these drugs once a week for 3 months;
  • rifampin – the sufferer takes this antibiotic each day for 4 months;
  • isoniazid – it is the most common therapy for latent TB and is used for about 9 months.


#20 The tuberculosis vaccine, better known as BCG, may prevent the spread of this disease, however, it does not protect against PTB.

Preventive methods include:

#21 If you work in a facility that cares for sufferers who have untreated TBU, use face masks.

#22 People who are in poor health are more susceptible to this disease, hence, it is important to do your best to have a working immune system. To achieve this, steps include:

#23 Regular physical activity – walk for minimum of 90 minutes per day. The improved circulation will notably improve your immunity.

#24 Spend time outside – try to spend as much time as possible outdoors, in the fresh air. It will boost your vitamin D levels. In addition, sunlight is essential since TB bacteria are highly susceptible to direct sunlight. Also, maintain good personal hygiene.

#25 Sleep – get plenty of good quality sleep. Aim for between 7 and 8 hours per night. Avoid smoking and second-hand smoking. Also, reduce or avoid alcohol consumption.

#26 Nutrition – have a diet focused on fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, legumes, seeds, spices, and nuts. Avoid fatty, processed, and animal foods. Furthermore, eat a few bananas a day since they are a good source of nutrients that can help enhance your immune system.

#27 Garlic has antibacterial attributes that can help in destroying pathogenic bacteria. This is most likely due to its allicin and ajoene content.

Images credit – Shutterstock & Getty

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