Risk Factors of Developing Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (commonly known as short form TB) is an infectious disease caused by tubercle bacilli (Mycobacterium tuberculosis), which can be fatal in untreated cases and cause death of thousands of people every year (despite treatment with anti-tubercular drugs), especially in developing countries such as India. The typical site of infection by tubercle bacilli is lungs, but it can infect various other extra-pulmonary tissues such as brain, bones, kidney, skin, intestine, genitourinary tract etc. Involvement of ovary by tuberculosis leads to infertility, a common cause of infertility in developing countries. The most common mode of spread of the disease is by droplet infection, which are generated by tuberculosis patients when they sneeze or cough or talk.

What are the risk factors of contacting tuberculosis?

Practically anyone can get tuberculosis, however there are certain factors which increases risk of developing the disease. The risk factors include:

Weak immune system

  • HIV/AIDS patients with immunity are at greater risk of tuberculosis. In fact in most Western developed nations tuberculosis has emerged as a threat to public health with appearance of HIV/AIDS. Before that the disease was almost absent in developed countries.
  • About Diabetes patients, as they have weaker immune system
  • Individuals with malnutrition, as malnourished person’s immune system is usually weak.
  • Persons taking immune-suppressant drugs for any medical condition, such as organ transplantation
  • About Cancer patients undergoing treatment with chemotherapy
  • Certain medications that are used for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Chron’s disease etc.
  • Extremes of ages (very old and very young)
  • Individuals with chronic lung disease such as silicosis and other occupational lung disease are at greater risk of tuberculosis

 

Poverty and substance abuse

  • Tuberculosis is a disease of poverty, hence it is common in developing and poor nations, where living conditions are unhygienic. People live in cramp localities. Spread of tuberculosis is favored by overcrowding, ill ventilation and poor surroundings. Poor people may not be aware of the symptoms of the disease and unable to get medical care required. Poor people cannot afford proper housing and diet are at greater risk. Poor nutrition leads to weak immune system and risk of tuberculosis
  • Abuse of alcohol or any drug abuse leads to weak immune system and risk of tuberculosis
  • Tobacco users are at greater risk of tuberculosis, in compare to non-users

Place you live or work

  • Living in overcrowded, unhygienic and poorly ventilated area increase risk of tuberculosis, as in case of slum dwellers and dwellers in refugee camps. People living in or working in crowded places in developed countries such as immigration centers, prisons, nursing homes are at greater risk of tuberculosis. Health care workers without adequate precaution are also at risk of tuberculosis.
  • People living or traveling to regions where tuberculosis is common such as India, China, Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries are at risk of tuberculosis

 




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