Chest - Lung Problems Description

Respiratory tract diseases are diseases that affect the air passages, including the nasal passages, the bronchi and the lungs. They range from acute infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, to chronic conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Tubercolosis (TB)

According to WHO, Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.

TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
When a person develops active TB (disease), the symptoms (cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss etc.) may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care, and results in transmission of the bacteria to others. People ill with TB can infect up to 10-15 other people through close contact over the course of a year. Without proper treatment up to two thirds of people ill with TB will die.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Common symptoms of active lung TB are cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats,
Many countries still rely on a long-used method called sputum smear microscopy to diagnose TB. Trained laboratory technicians look at sputum samples under a microscope to see if TB bacteria are present.

With three such tests, diagnosis can be made within a day, but this test does not detect numerous cases of less infectious forms of TB.

Diagnosing MDR-TB (see Multidrug-resistant TB section below) and HIV-associated TB can be more complex. A new two-hour test that has proven highly effective in diagnosing TB and the presence of drug resistance is now being rolled-out in many countries.

Tuberculosis is particularly difficult to diagnose in children.

Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR)

Standard anti-TB drugs have been used for decades, and resistance to the medicines is widespread. Disease strains that are

resistant to a single anti-TB drug have been documented in every country surveyed.

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to, at least, isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful, first-line (or standard) anti-TB drugs.


The primary cause of MDR-TB is inappropriate treatment. Inappropriate or incorrect use of anti-TB drugs, or use of poor quality medicines, can all cause drug resistance.

Disease caused by resistant bacteria fails to respond to conventional, first-line treatment. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs. However second-line treatment options are limited and recommended medicines are not always available. The extensive chemotherapy required (up to two years of treatment) is more costly and can produce severe adverse drug reactions in patients.

In some cases more severe drug resistance can develop. Extensively drug-resistant TB, XDR-TB, is a form of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis that responds to even fewer available medicines, including the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs.







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