Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. There are two strains, one human and one bovine , which are spread by inhalation of infected sputum in the case of the former and by drinking infected milk in the case of the latter.

Tuberculosis is generally overcome by an intact immune system but anyone with a lowered resistance from conditions such as malnutrition, diabetes and drug use are more likely to succumb if this disease is contracted. Anybody with lung infection or disease is also more prone.

The incidents of tuberculosis remain high in overcrowded and Third World countries, but until recently tuberculosis was on the wane in the Western world. Unfortunately, injudicious use of antibacterial agents has led to resistant strains developing, which are now defeating even the strongest of antibiotics. We appear to be coming full circle and returning to a time when individual health and a strong immune system is going to prove of more benefit than drug treatment.

This condition used to be known as consumption because of the symptoms of malaise, weight loss or failure to grow, and a persisting cough with the development of shortness of breath. Many other features are known to physicians and would be looked for at an examination if necessary.

Left alone, the great majority of those who contract the condition will simply defeat the bacteria and leave a characteristic calcified area noted on X-rays. This is formed by the body’s attempt to wall in the infection. Tuberculosis may continue to live within this cavity and escape at times when the individual is run down, causing a reactivation of the symptoms.

Investigations include chest X-rays with lesions that usually appear in the upper part of the lungs. Some blood changes may be found but a definitive diagnosis is generally made by cultur-ing sputum or urine samples, depending upon where the infection is, and growing them in special culture mediums.

In a severely ill person, treatment with antibiotics may need to be started before a firm diagnosis is made and before it is known whether the antibiotics being used are in fact going to affect this type of bacteria. Complementary medical treatment may be of benefit in less seriously ill people whilst they await the sensitivity reports so that accurate antibiotic treatment may be given.

Any persistent illness needs to be checked by a doctor and it is worth reminding physicians in the West, who may not come across tuberculosis, to consider it as part of their differential diagnosis.

If tuberculosis is diagnosed do not rush into drug treatment unless symptoms are causing marked problems. Instead consult a complementary medical practitioner with experience in this field. Self-treatment may not necessarily be the best.

Ensure that a change in lifestyle is made to eliminate all factors that may be reducing immunity, especially bad habits such as smoking and excess alcohol. Any drug of abuse will reduce the body’s immune system response.

Whilst awaiting specific treatment protocols, use the homeopathic remedy Tuberculinum 200 nightly for three nights.

Prevention is generally the best form of treatment so ensure that health is at an optimum level before visiting areas where tuberculosis is endemic. If optimum health is not present, then see Vaccinations to decide whether such an inoculation should be used.

Miliary tuberculosis

If tuberculosis spreads through the blood, it can land in any tissue anywhere. Widespread symptoms may occur and the above treatment recommendations should be considered bearing in mind that this condition is far more aggressive and likely to have a poorer prognosis.