Tuberculosis is a very common and an infectious disease which is caused by different strains of mycobacterium. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but it can also affect other parts of the body. It can be spread through the air when people who have the disease cough, sneeze, or spit, therefore spreading the infection.
‘After the tuberculosis bacteria have been inhaled they reach the lungs and, within approximately six weeks, a small infection appears that rarely gives any symptoms. This is called a primary infection’. The lymph nodes in the heart and lungs become swollen; The TB then spreads to other parts of the body. (1). Most infections in humans result in an asymptomatic, latent infection, approximately one in ten latent infections eventually become an active disease, which, if left untreated, kills more than half of its victims. In addition, in the 19th centaury approximately 1 in 4 people had this disorder.
Also, this disease kills over two million people a year. In addition, those who have HIV or alcoholics are more likely to develop tuberculosis due to a weaker immunity to disease. If someone has a stronger immune system the disease may remain dormant longer or remain dormant for the rest of the person’s life, as the immune system forms a scar tissue, which helps fight the bacteria. However, tuberculosis can still emerge at any time, as at any time the bacteria could break out of the scar tissue making it infectious again. ‘When a person becomes infected with tuberculosis, the bacteria in the lungs multiply and cause pneumonia along with chest pain, coughing up blood, and a prolonged cough’. (2)
A possible solution
Biologists at the moment have different treatments towards tuberculosis for example ‘isoniazid, rifampin (Rifadin), ethambutol (Myambutol) and pyrazinamide’ (3) is used, these drugs could be changed at any time if they are shown to be less useful towards curing the disease, or alternatively if a better treatment is found to help cure tuberculosis more effectively. Also, Rifaters can be used to treat the disease as it contains all the medicine combined. This would help reduce confusion with all the medication that’s being taken as this drug would be an all in one inclusive package.
Firstly, Isoniazid is an antibiotic used to treat the disease, as well as this, it can be used as an antidepressant, as it was one of the first antidepressants discovered in 1951. The exact mechanism is not currently known, however we know that ‘tuberculosis bacteria from making substances called mycolic acids, which are needed to form the cell walls of the bacteria.’ As the cell wall if effected, the bacteria will eventually die. The side effects to this particular treatment are:
* ‘Nausea and vomiting.
* Dry mouth.
* Difficulty urinating.
* Dizziness or spinning sensation (vertigo).
* Inflammation of the nerves (neuritis), which may cause pins and needles sensations, muscle weakness or blurred vision. Your doctor may prescribe you pyridoxine (vitamin B6) supplements to help prevent this side effect. Tell your doctor straight away if you experience symptoms like these.
* Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis).
* Seizures (convulsions).
* Loss of contact with reality (psychosis).
* Blood disorders.
* Skin reactions.
* Raised blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia).’