New Study Shows That TB Can Cause Permanent Lung Damage Even After Successful Treatment

The Logical Indian Crew

August 14th, 2019 / 1:05 PM

Tuberculosis Damage Lungs

Image Credit: Medical News Today (Representational)

A new study published by Lancet Global Health has come up with a revelation that Tuberculosis (TB) can cause permanent lung damage, even after successful treatment.

The collaborated venture between Scotland-based University of Dundee and Respiratory Research Network of India have reported the results of more than 2000 Indian cases where permanent lung damage has been reported.

The researchers have found that a total of one-third of the patients who are successfully cured of TB tend to develop permanent lung damage which in the worst cases have turned into cavities in lungs and widening of airways called the bronchiectasis.

40% Of Patients Undergo Hospitalisation Post-TB Treatment

The majority of patients with lung damage in India either had the medical history of severe infection such as childhood pneumonia. The European Respiratory Society and British Lung Foundation funded the research and also suggested that these infections generally leave a legacy of daily cough, chest infections which eventually means that the patient suffers throughout their life.

Near about 40 per cent of the cases of Post-TB treatment, patients had to go under further hospitalisation. Lung functions also found out that patients with post-TB lung damage had lost approximately 40 per cent of their lung capacity, which left many patients with persistent breathlessness.

The scientists at Dundree carried out the research while working alongside doctors in hospitals and medical centres across India.

“These Problems Are Curable; Authorities Need To Step Up”

A total of 2195 patients from 14 Indian states who were suffering from established bronchiectasis were asked to take part in the study. Patient’s detailed medical history and lung function results were analysed to evaluate the severity of the lung damage.

Professor James Chalmers who is a respiratory research professor at the University of  Dundee and also the lead author of this study stated that, “The lung damage we observed in patients in India, not just those with TB but also those with other previous severe infections like pneumonia, was very severe, lungs that were described by their doctors as destroyed,” 

“These problems are preventable, with earlier recognition and prevention of TB and other infections like pneumonia, and the consequences are treatable. Public health authorities need to step up their efforts to rapidly diagnose and treat TB, otherwise we could end up in a situation where we could see one epidemic replaced with another,” he said.

“This Study Is A Wake-up Call”

Indian patients were compared to their European and American counterparts and it was found that lung infection was worse in India and the patients were more likely to be hospitalised.

It was also found out that recommended treatment for these patients such as inhaler, physiotherapy and antibiotic treatments were not provided that further escalated the problem.

“This study calls urgent attention to the problem of post-TB lung damage worldwide. TB is a curable condition with antibiotics and great steps have been made towards eliminating TB,  But this study is a wake-up call because even if we manage to eliminate all TB worldwide tomorrow, we are going to be left with a legacy of chronic lung damage and bronchiectasis which will require better recognition and better treatment,” he said.

One-Quarter Of Worldwide TB Cases In India

World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018 released a global TB report that estimated the number of Indians that have contracted TB stands at 28 Lakhs, which contributes to around 25 per cent of the total number of TB cases worldwide.

This study question’s Indian government’s pledge of eradicating TB by 2025 and states that epidemic could have a lasting consequence and hence its complete eradication within the set target time is doubtful.

Affordable treatments like physiotherapy and antibiotics have a proven efficiency of improving the quality of life but is still not available for around 50 per cent of Indian patients

More about Tuberculosis

An infectious disease that affects the lung severely, Tuberculosis can be seen in other organs as well, which is called extrapulmonary tuberculosis. The bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the cause behind the disease. Since it is a contagious disease, It can be transmitted via air from an infected individual to others.

The symptoms of the disease include fever, cough, cold, loss of weight and appetite, chest pain, as well as chills.

Also Read: Rats Sniff Out Landmines And Save Thousands Of Lives In Africa & Asia, Also Detect Tuberculosis


Written by : Anushk Kaushik (Intern)

Edited by : Shweta Kothari

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