World Tuberculosis Day 2023: Both Covid-19 and tuberculosis are diseases which affect the respiratory system of the host organism, primarily the lungs. Moreover, several symptoms are common between the two diseases.
As a result, a question arises if there is any correlation between Covid-19 and tuberculosis, and whether Covid-19 can make a person more vulnerable to tuberculosis, and vice versa.
According to experts, studies suggest that Covid-19 may increase the risk of developing active tuberculosis disease. This is because Covid-19 weakens the immune system.
“There is limited research on the correlation between Covid-19 and tuberculosis. However, some studies suggest that Covid-19 may increase the risk of developing active tuberculosis disease, as it can weaken the immune system. Conversely, tuberculosis infection may also increase the severity of Covid-19 illness. People with both tuberculosis and Covid-19 may experience more severe symptoms and a higher risk of mortality. It is essential to maintain appropriate infection control measures, including wearing masks and physical distancing, to prevent the spread of both diseases,” Dr Ambarish Joshi, Senior Consultant – Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine, Primus Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, tells ABP Live.
Both tuberculosis and Covid-19 cause symptoms such as cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. Moreover, active and latent tuberculosis infection are important risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection. According to experts, tuberculosis is linked with a 2.1-fold increased risk of severe Covid-19.
“The prevalence of tuberculosis among Covid-19 patients has been found to be 0.37 – 4.47 per cent. History of active as well as latent tuberculosis is an important risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with rapid and severe symptom development and disease progression with poor outcomes. Tuberculosis is associated with a 2.1-fold increased risk of severe Covid-19 disease. In addition, tuberculosis patients also tend to have comorbid conditions such as malnutrition, diabetes and HIV infection, that increase their vulnerability,” Dr Arun Chowdary Kotaru, Consultant, Respiratory/ Pulmonology & Sleep Medicine at Artemis Hospitals Gurgaon, tells ABP Live.
People with tuberculosis are more likely to develop severe Covid-19 than others because tuberculosis can harm the lungs and make them more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and can weaken the immune system. Similarly, Covid-19 can also increase one’s susceptibility to tuberculosis.
“It is seen that people with tuberculosis may be more likely to develop severe Covid-19. This is because tuberculosis can harm the lungs and make them more susceptible to infection. Furthermore, people with tuberculosis may have weakened immune systems, making it more difficult for them to fight Covid-19. There is some evidence that Covid-19 can increase a person's susceptibility to tuberculosis,” Dr Babina NM, Chief Medical officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bangalore, tells ABP Live.
According to Dr NM, this is because Covid-19 also weakens the immune system, making the person more vulnerable to tuberculosis. Since Covid-19 and tuberculosis have similar symptoms, diagnosis of the diseases can sometimes be challenging.
Many Covid-19 patients develop pulmonary tuberculosis. Covid-19 patients are given steroids, which leads to decreased immunity.
“Post-Covid-19, we have seen a few patients who have come to us with pulmonary tuberculosis. Many Covid-19 patients were given steroids, which resulted in decreased immunity. There is a probability that this could be why many patients complain of pulmonary tuberculosis after Covid-19. Medical services were not readily available during the days of the pandemic, and people were not getting tested for tuberculosis. In my opinion, this could be the reason for the surge of patients with tuberculosis post-Covid-19,” Dr Arjun Khanna, Head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, tells ABP Live.
Therefore, it is important for people with tuberculosis or Covid-19 to take care of themselves to ensure that they do not develop any other respiratory ailment or other diseases.
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