While tuberculosis (TB) might sound like a word of the past, it is still very much in existence even today and that too in large numbers in India. It is among the top ten causes of death in the world. It is a contagious, airborne disease that can affect any organ of the body such as lungs and spine. Tuberculosis destroys the body tissue and is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis and spreads from one person to another via tiny droplets of cough, sneeze, laugh released into the air. However, TB is not that easily transferrable unless a person spends a lot of time close to the patient infected with tuberculosis. Out of the several forms of TB, one major form is bone tuberculosis.
Bone tuberculosis affects the spine, the long bones, as well as the joints; most cases of bone tuberculosis are related to the spine column. However, bone TB can affect any bone of the body. It is caused when tuberculosis that primarily affects the lungs spreads to other parts of the body, travelling through the blood from the lungs or lymph nodes. Bone TB essentially starts when there is a lot of vascular supply in the middle of long bones and the vertebrae. Though uncommon, bone TB is rising due to widespread AIDS in India and other developing nations.
Even with advancements in the medical field, it is very difficult to diagnose bone tb since its symptoms are rare and difficult to detect. In most cases, bone TB is detected usually when the stages have progressed beyond a safe control. In many cases, bone TB might not show any symptoms until the very last stages. That said, some patients might not be aware of the presence of TB in the body at all and might detect TB and bone tb when it is too late.
However, some of the common symptoms of bone TB that must be looked out for include:
- Chronic back pain
- Painful swelling
- Stiffness in joints
In further advanced cases of bone TB, symptoms might show up as:
- Neurological disorders
- Deformities in bone structures
Even though difficult to detect without medical intervention, damage caused by bone TB is usually reversible if it is treated on time and with the right medications. Treatment for bone TB could last long approximately up to 18 months or more. Surgery might be the best solution for advanced cases of bone tuberculosis where the doctors might remove a part of the affected vertebrae.
In other cases, where bone TB is detected in time, treatment would also involve avoiding certain things such as:
Excessive consumption of alcohol: Alcohol is closely linked with bone tuberculosis since it raises the level of ethanol which in turn leads to higher mycobacterium burden, impaired granuloma formation. Alcohol also reduced the response of the patient towards the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine, which is primarily given to prevent tuberculosis. Hence, a person suffering from bone TB must avoid alcohol consumption at all costs.
Tobacco: Tobacco in any form should be strictly avoided by a person detected with bone tb symptoms. Tobacco increases the risk of contracting tuberculosis, triggering the active tuberculosis form, and shoots up chances of recurrence of tuberculosis. More so, it also negatively affects the treatment and medications of tuberculosis, which in turn increases the risk of relapse.
Caffeine: All drinks containing caffeine such as carbonated drinks, coffee, etc. should not be consumed by a person displaying symptoms of bone tuberculosis. Caffeine is s stimulant and increases the bacterial action, hence intensifying the condition.
Refined products: Refined items such as sugar, bread, white rice, sweetened drinks, puddings, refined cereals, should be restricted from the diet of a person suffering from tuberculosis since these are known to contain properties that trigger bacterial action in people infected with tuberculosis.
Greasy food: Food items such as fried beef, chicken, chips, onion rings, and other fried items or foods that are high on saturated fat – should be avoided if a person has bone tuberculosis. These greasy foods raise the level of cholesterol, which in turn shoots up the risk for diabetes and heart problems that leads to a weakened immune system. A weak immune system acts as a breeding ground for tuberculosis bacteria. Further such foods intensify symptoms of bone tuberculosis.
Moreover, as precautionary and preventive measures, a person suffering from bone tuberculosis or any other form of tuberculosis must focus on a nutritional rich diet including fibre, protein, green leafy vegetable, etc. which are rich in iron and vitamin B. Apart from this, consumption of whole grains, antioxidant-rich vegetables, and unsaturated fat should be increases.
With approximately more than a million cases of TB in India each year, it is important for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of TB to ensure they can get the needed medical help and ensure their safety and of the others.