How Does Tuberculosis Affect The Central Nervous System

How Does Tuberculosis Affect The Central Nervous System ?

Clinically, there are 3 kinds of central nervous system tuberculosis, namely meningitis, spinal tuberculous arachnoiditis and intracranial tuberculoma that are frequently encountered in tuberculosis (TB) prone areas throughout the world. Post-primary dissemination occurs commonly amongst children and the young adults. In places where the rate of incidence is low, like North America or Western parts of Europe, extra- pulmonary signs of the illness are primarily found in grown-ups with reoccurrence possibilities. Meningitis is the dominant kind of central nervous system (CNS) disease.


In the initial stages of TB meningitis non-specific and vague signs of slight fever, pains and aches, fatigue and tiredness, improper sleep and irritation, loss of appetite and increasing headaches are seen that continue from between 2-8 weeks. Eventually the symptoms become subtle with the patient complaining of feeling weak or unwell and drowsy. It is only after weeks that definite symptoms like severe headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck, preference for dim lights and seizures come about.

If treatment of TB is not started on time, the patient might show sign of confusion, nerve damage and finally go into coma. Other likely complications that can be seen are hearing loss, brain damage, hydrocephalus, seizure and subdural effusions.

Treatment for TB meningitis lasts for almost a year. It involves treatment with 3 or 4 antibiotics to start with, continuing two of these antibiotics for around another 10 months. This disease is much more severe as compared to the other types of meningitis majorly because it is difficult to detect this disease at its early stages. Often by when the treatment starts, the brain tissues, blood vessels and nerves surrounding the brain are already affected and damaged. Therefore, though 70 to 85 percent such cases survive, one-fourth of these cases may suffer long term after effects. However, if the treatment is started before any symptoms of brain injury are seen, a decent chance of hundred percent recoveries is possible.

Tuberculosis meningitis if untreated can be life-threatening. It is important to undertake repeated follow-ups for a long time so as to detect timely recurrences of this disease.
Contact the local emergency number or rush to the emergency department of a hospital immediately if a child or even adult show symptoms of irritability, persistent undiagnosed fever, high-pitched cries and display loss of appetite.

Places where tuberculosis is prevalent, BCG vaccine can help prevent very small children from dangerous types of tuberculosis, like TB of meningitis. Perform a PPD. If the results are positive, it means the person showing evidence of dormant tuberculosis needs to be treated to check the spreading of tuberculosis.

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How Does Tuberculosis Affect The Central Nervous System

Medline Plus: Meningitis - Tuberculous