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All You Need To Know About Brain Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs, but this deadly disease has the potential to affect other parts of the body as well. Tuberculosis can infect the brain which results in inflammation of the tissues that cover the brain and is called meningitis tuberculosis.

Meningitis tuberculosis is also known as tubercular meningitis or TB meningitis. Meningitis tuberculosis is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis involving the meninges or coverings of the brain or the brain itself [1] .

Brain tuberculosis can develop in children and adults of all age groups. However, people with specific health problems are more at a greater risk of developing this condition.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) TB statistics in India 2015, is an estimated incidence of 2.2 million cases of TB in India. The estimated mortality rate of brain tuberculosis is 1.5 per 100,000 population in India. And the estimated mortality rate of TB in India is 2.2 million per year.

Here's all you need to know about brain tuberculosis or meningitis tuberculosis.

Symptoms Of Brain Tuberculosis

Unlike lung tuberculosis, brain tuberculosis is not a contagious disease and the symptoms of this disease appear slowly. They become severe with each passing day. Below are the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue.
  • Low-grade fever.
  • Malaise.
  • Confusion.
  • Nausea & vomiting.
  • Irritability.
  • Lethargy.
  • Unconsciousness.

Risk Factors Of Brain Tuberculosis [2]

The risk factors of brain tuberculosis or TB meningitis are:

  • Excessive alcohol use.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Diabetes mellitus.

Complications Of Brain Tuberculosis

The complications of meningitis tuberculosis are significant, and in some cases are life-threatening too. These include the following:

  • Seizures
  • Increased pressure in the brain
  • Loss of hearing
  • Brain Damage
  • Stroke
  • Death

Increased pressure in the brain can cause permanent brain damage. If you experience vision changes and headaches at the same time, go to the doctor immediately, as this could be a sign of increased pressure in the brain.

Diagnosis Of Brain Tuberculosis [3]

It is often difficult to diagnose brain TB because the initial clinical symptoms of brain TB are non-specific and are often confused with other neurological disorders, resulting in delayed diagnosis. However, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you about your symptoms. They will collect fluid from your backbone and send it to the laboratory for analysis to confirm your condition.

Other tests include biopsy of the meninges, blood culture, chest X-ray, CT scan of the head and skin test for tuberculosis.

Treatment Of Brain Tuberculosis [4]

For two months in the intensive phase, there are four tablets; brain TB patients are given two tablets for seven months in continuation phase. There are also a combination of drugs prescribed from time to time because of the side effects. The total treatment for brain tuberculosis is nine months.

The four drugs used to treat brain TB are:

1. Isoniazid.

2. Rifampin.

3. Pyrazinamide.

4. Ethambutol.

All these medications are used for treatment, except for ethambutol, because it doesn't penetrate well through the lining of the brain.

Diet Of Brain Tuberculosis

Diet plays an important role in treating brain tuberculosis. Because the immune system has to be strong and build immunity to fight against the disease. This is where diet comes in. You need to include fresh fruits, vegetables and lots of protein to ensure that the patient can recover from the disease.

These are the following things to add in your diet.

  • Fresh juicy fruits like apples, pears, grapes, oranges, peaches, melons and pineapples.
  • The all-fruit diet is for the first few days during the treatment and after that milk and fruit diet is recommended.
  • Milk is an excellent source of calcium and that's the reason it's very good for brain TB patients.
  • Avoid foods like white sugar, refined cereals, pies, puddings, and canned and preserved food.
  • Strong tea, coffee, pickles and sauces also must be avoided.

Prevention Of Brain Tuberculosis

The best way to prevent TB meningitis or brain TB is to prevent TB infections. In communities where tuberculosis is common, the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine can aid in controlling the spread of the disease. This vaccine is very effective for controlling TB infections in young children.

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View Article References
  1. [1] Mezochow, A., Thakur, K., & Vinnard, C. (2017). Tuberculous Meningitis in Children and Adults: New Insights for an Ancient Foe.Current neurology and neuroscience reports,17(11), 85.
  2. [2] Duque-Silva, A., Robsky, K., Flood, J., & Barry, P. M. (2015). Risk factors for central nervous system tuberculosis. Pediatrics, 136(5), e1276-e1284.
  3. [3] Marx, G. E., & Chan, E. D. (2011). Tuberculous meningitis: diagnosis and treatment overview.Tuberculosis research and treatment,2011.
  4. [4] Davis, A., Meintjes, G., & Wilkinson, R. J. (2018). Treatment of Tuberculous Meningitis and Its Complications in Adults.Current treatment options in neurology,20(3), 5.

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