New Delhi: As the world gets set to observe Tuberculosis Day on March 24, health experts on Wednesday said cases of spinal and genital TB have doubled in India due to lack of awareness.
According to doctors, while the spinal TB can be cancerous, genital TB among women is emerging as the largest cause of infertility in them.
"Recent studies have concluded that till a decade ago, only 10 percent of tuberculosis patients suffered from genital TB. This percentage has now increased to 30 as patients tend to ignore it in initial stages and also lack of awareness," said Bandita Sinha, gynecologist at the Apollo and Fortis Hospital here.
Sinha said one of the reasons for increase in genital TB cases is that patients get to know about it only at a later stage.
"Genital TB occurs without specific symptoms; its only through investigation or examination by a doctor that the disease can be diagnosed," she said, adding that irregular heavy or less menstrual flow indicate complications which are also common to other reproductive problems among women.
She said: "Genital TB is caused when the bacteria enters the blood stream from the lungs and reaches the uterus or bladder."
Doctors say nearly 90 percent women with genital tuberculosis are in the 15-40 age group. Infertility figures due to genital tuberculosis is 60-80 percent.
Talking about spinal TB, whose symptoms are similar to those of arthritis, Satnam Singh Chhabra, head of neuro and spine department at the Sir Gangaram Hospital, said: "Five to 10 percent of the total TB patients in India suffer from bone TB. The figure is on the rise, more due to ignorance about bone TB."
Spinal TB, if left untreated for long, can spread, Chhabra said: "In severe cases, the spine can collapse, causing paralysis of the lower body. And if spinal TB progresses to the destruction of the vertebrae and discs, the bones of the spine jut forward and form a hump," said Chhabra.
Subhash Shalya, orthopedic surgeon at the Bone Joint Care Foundation of India, said, "Bone TB, in its early stages, is often misdiagnosed as arthritis. Therefore, to distinguish it from arthritic pain, patients should observe the nature of pain. Most patients of arthritis experience relief at night when lying down. Whereas for those suffering from bone TB, lying flat increases discomfort due to increased bacterial activity," he said.