All You Need To Know About Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis, also known as TB, is a bacterial infection that can affect the lungs and other organs. It has caused millions of deaths worldwide over the years, but there are a few ways to protect yourself from contracting it. One way to keep it at bay is through vaccination. However, you may not be aware that meningitis can accompany tuberculosis.

Tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is an inflammation of the membrane around your brain and spinal cord, which is called the meninges. The most common symptoms of TBM include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Other possible symptoms include confusion, dizziness, seizures, vision problems and hearing loss. In severe cases, people will experience difficulty breathing or blood coming out of their nose or ears.

While many cases of TBM are mild, some serious cases require hospitalization. If left untreated, however, it can lead to death. Here’s more about this condition and what you need to know about it.

What causes tuberculous meningitis?

Tuberculous meningitis is a disease in which someone gets this type of infection in the meninges—the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This infection, which usually starts in the lungs, spreads to the brain through the bloodstream. The bacteria cause the inflammation, which leads to swelling of the membranes. There are two main types of TBM: primary (which occurs when the person first gets infected with the bacteria) and secondary (which develops after being exposed to the bacteria).

In both types of TBM, the bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) enter the body through the lungs. They travel to the lymph nodes (small glands where white blood cells gather), then spread to the bone marrow, which produces red blood cells. From there, they move to the liver and spleen, before entering the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, they may be transported to the brain by the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)—a clear liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Some individuals have weakened immune systems, which makes them more susceptible to contracting the disease. People who smoke tobacco products, those suffering from HIV/AIDS, or those living with diabetes are also at higher risk for TMB.

Once in the brain, the bacteria infect the meninges, causing swelling and scarring that blocks the CSF pathway and prevents proper drainage. When the bacteria get stuck in the meninges, they begin to create toxins that damage the neurons in the area. These damaged neurons may eventually die off or become weak. Once that happens, the patient’s brain functions start to deteriorate.

There are several different strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, all of which can cause TBM. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one strain, H37Rv, accounts for 90 percent of all cases of TMB. However, the CDC does warn that new strains of tuberculosis are appearing on a regular basis. Therefore, if you contract tuberculosis, make sure to get tested for any new strains that might develop.

The best way to prevent TBM is to avoid contracting the bacteria in the first place. To do so, you should always wear a mask while working outside or playing sports in public places. You should also avoid touching your face without washing your hands first; this includes kissing, sharing drinks or eating utensils. Also, don’t share drugs or alcohol with anyone who has been diagnosed with TB.

For most of the people they believed that tuberculosis is mainly caused by viral meningitis but this is not true as there are many other reasons behind the spread of this disease. If you read this article carefully then you will get to know about it in more detail. You can also read out information from internet but there you have to search for every single thing which you want to know about it. 

How to diagnose tuberculous meningitis

If you think that you’ve contracted TBM, your doctor will likely perform a lumbar puncture. This involves inserting a needle into your lower back to remove spinal fluid, which is used to screen for the presence of TB. A positive test means that you actually have TB, but the test isn’t 100% accurate. Your doctor may also order a CT scan of your head and spine to look for signs of TB.

Your doctor will also run tests to determine whether there are any active infections elsewhere in your body. For example, he or she will likely check for TB in your urine, your throat, your blood and your stool. Additionally, your doctor may use special stains to see if the bacteria are present in your brain tissue.

A physical exam will help your doctor diagnose TMB. He or she will look for signs of meningeal irritation such as headaches, high fevers, stiff necks, altered mental status and seizures. A neurological examination will also be performed, and your doctor will conduct a number of basic tests, including checking your reflexes, cranial nerves and motor skills. Finally, your doctor will take a sample of your spinal fluid, which will be sent to a lab for testing.

Treatment for tuberculous meningitis

Because the prognosis for tuberculous meningitis is poor when left untreated, doctors generally aim to treat it quickly. A treatment plan may include a combination of antibiotics and steroids, depending on the severity of your condition. Depending on how far along your illness is, you may be placed on a ventilator for respiratory support or undergo surgery to relieve pressure on your brain.

It’s important to remember that your health care provider may prescribe additional medications depending on your specific needs. If you suspect you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to inform your doctor of this. Certain medicines, including rifampin, are toxic to fetuses, so you should discuss these options with your doctor before taking them.

Unfortunately, despite early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, the mortality rate for TMB remains high. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 20 percent of patients who have TBM die within four months of developing the disease. However, because many cases of TMB go undiagnosed, the actual figure could be much higher.