Debunking Myths Around Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious mycobacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. It is a serious health concern, causing over a million deaths worldwide each year. Despite efforts to prevent and treat TB, there are still many myths and misconceptions surrounding the disease. In this article, we will explore some of the most common facts and myths about tuberculosis.


TB is caused by Mycobacteria.

The origin of tuberculosis is attributed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a type of bacterium. This bug spreads through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

TB can be cured.

TB is curable with proper treatment, which usually involves a combination of antibiotics taken for six to nine months. Completing the entire treatment course is crucial to ensure the complete elimination of the infection.

TB is a global health concern.

Tuberculosis ranks among the top ten causes of death globally and stands out as the primary cause of death caused by a single infectious agent.The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that approximately 10.6 million people contracted tuberculosis (TB) across the globe in 2021, with 6 million of them being men, 3.4 million women, and 1.2 million children. Although TB is prevalent across all countries and age groups, it is a curable and preventable disease.

TB can affect other parts of the body.

Although TB primarily affects the lungs, it can also affect almost every part of the body, including the lymph nodes, gut, kidneys, spine, and brain etc.

TB can be prevented.

TB can be prevented through measures such as vaccination, screening, and early detection and treatment of active TB cases.


Only people with weakened immune systems can get TB.

While people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are more susceptible to TB, anyone can get TB if they are exposed to the causative organism.

TB is a disease of the past.

Although TB was more common in the past, it is still a significant health concern today. In fact, the incidence of TB has been increasing in some parts of the world, including in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.

TB is always easy and simple to diagnose.

Although it is true that TB can be diagnosed in many patients with sputum examination and chest X ray, but sometimes TB can be really difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms can be similar to those of other illnesses. Diagnosis usually involves a combination of clinical evaluation, laboratory tests, and imaging studies.

TB is always contagious.

Not all cases of TB are contagious. Only people with active infection of lungs due to TB can spread the bacteria to others. People with latent TB infection (meaning they have the bacteria but do not have active symptoms) are not contagious.

TB can be cured with natural remedies.

There is no evidence to support the use of natural remedies as a treatment for TB. The only effective treatment for TB is a course of antibiotics prescribed by a healthcare professional.

In conclusion, tuberculosis is a serious global health concern that requires accurate information and understanding. TB is caused by mycobacteria and can be cured with proper treatment. TB can affect other parts of the body and can be prevented. However, there are also many myths surrounding TB, including the belief that only people with weakened immune systems can get TB, that it is a disease of the past, and that it can be cured with natural remedies. It is important to seek accurate information and to work with healthcare professionals to prevent, diagnose, and treat TB.

Dr. Gyanendra Agarwal
Department of Internal Medicine, Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine
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