How does tuberculosis affect the lungs? How is tuberculosis spread?

##color(purple)(TB##(short for Tuberculosis) makes breathing difficult due to damage to the lungs. It is spread through the air via coughing, sneezing etc.

Tuberculosis is caused by this pesky bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis(we’ll call it ##color(red)(MT## for short) :

When a person’s immune system fails to neutralise ##color(red)(MT##, it grows and spreads.

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Although TB can be successfully treated by taking antibiotics which kill the bacteria, if left unchecked, it can wreak havoc in the lungs.

Holes are formed in the lungs. Then two things happen:

(this image shows the progression of holes in the right lung)

  • This reduces the surface area for gas exchange and hence makes a person breathless even after slight exertions such as walking.
  • The damaged area can bleed and cause accumulation of a fluid called pus. This basically suffocates the lungs from the inside.

Moreover, the airways that are still intact get blocked so less air moves through them. Still some don’t form holes but break down and collapse . (These are seen as the white fluffy areas in the diagram above). ##color(white)(xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx##

##color(purple)(TB## is highly contagious , so much that when an infected person exhales air( that contains MT), the bacteria remain lingering in the air (for up to several hours), another person inhales the bacteria from the air and gets TB.

Coughing, sneezing or laughing by the infected person releases more bacteria into the air which go farther than those exhaled during normal breathing.

Up till the 20th Century this was a disease that baffled people who once diagnosed with TB almost always died. The antibiotics to combat it were developed recently in human history. To understand more about how the disease works and some curious facts about it(which i’m sure you’re dying to know), check this link out:

I’ll hazard a guess and say that this will be the most fascinating thing you’ll ever read on Tuberculosis. Happy Exploring 😉

Get acquainted with a strange way for its quick diagnosis (which traditionally is painfully slow):