Poor Nutrition Increases Risk for Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (commonly known as TB) is a common infectious disease, which is often fatal, causes by various strains of mycobacteria, most common being Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis commonly involve lungs, however other organs (such as skin, gastrointestinal tract, bones, kidneys, brain etc.) may also be involved. Diet and nutrition plays an important role in tuberculosis.

The prognosis as well as disease progression depends to a great extent on dietary and nutritional factors. Poor nutritional status of an individual indicate poor prognostic outcome and poor nutritional status also make an individual more vulnerable to acquire TB infection.

Under nutrition is one of the important risk factors of developing TB, although it is not very clear, if under nutrition predisposes TB or TB predisposes under nutrition. Whatever may be the fact, there is a vicious cycle of poverty, under nutrition and TB. This cycle need to be broken for successfully controlling TB, especially in developing countries. Appearance of HIV has complicated the scenario of TB, especially in Western countries. In fact due to HIV, TB has staged a comeback in most Western countries. TB and HIV complement each other and propagate each other. HIV weakens immune system, which can be easily broken by TB and cause serious infection. Nutritional deficiencies are commonly seen in poor and underdeveloped countries, where incidence of TB is also high and resources for treatment limited.

TB causes anorexia, cachexia, and anemia, loss of fat mass, muscle wasting and generalized weakness. The same symptoms can occur in case of nutritional deficiencies too. Nutritional deficiency can affect prognosis and treatment (as well as prevention of TB) of tuberculosis in many ways. Nutritional deficiency may reactivate TB in long term. In short term, nutritional deficiency makes tuberculosis infection serious and prognosis poor. Metabolic need of an individual increases during tuberculosis, which is worsened by nutritional deficiency and lead to poor prognosis. Malnutrition or nutritional deficiency reduce effective of anti- tubercular medications.

Micronutrients

Deficiency of certain nutrients such as vitamin D, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C etc. lead to weakening of immune system and affect TB patients adversely. Weak immune system cannot fight TB bacteria and the effectiveness of anti- tubercular medications is also reduced.

Hence, it is important to manage nutritional status of a tuberculosis patient while treating. Give equal importance to nutrition.

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