Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. It is a serious condition, but can be cured with proper treatment. TB mainly affects the lungs. However, it can affect any part of the body, including the glands, bones and nervous system.

The symptoms that occur when TB disease develops, often there are complaints of tiredness, listlessness, loss of weight and night sweating. When TB affects the lungs, a cough is usually present for weeks or even months. An important feature of TB is that after infection, the bacteria can remain latent in the body for a long time (even lifelong) causing no symptoms of disease. This means you are not infectious but it could leave the body more prone to diseases.

Who is affected?

Before antibiotics were introduced, TB was a major health problem in the UK. Nowadays, the condition is much less common.

However, in the last 20 years, TB cases have gradually increased, particularly among ethnic minority communities who are originally from countries where TB is more common. In 2014, more than 6,500 cases of TB were reported in England. Of these, around 4,700 affected people who were born outside of the UK.

How is TB treated?

With treatment, TB can usually be cured. Most people will need a course of antibiotics, usually for six months.
Several different antibiotics are used. This is because some forms of TB are resistant to certain antibiotics. If you are infected with a drug-resistant form of TB, treatment with six or more different medications may be needed.

Tinnitus is the term for hearing sounds that come from inside your body, rather than from an outside source. It’s often described as “ringing in the ears”, although several sounds can be heard, including:

  • Buzzing
  • Humming
  • Grinding
  • Hissing
  • Whistling

Some people may hear sounds similar to music or singing, and others hear noises that beat in time with their pulse (pulsatile tinnitus).

Tinnitus is rarely a sign of a serious underlying condition. For some people it may come and go and only be a minor irritation. However, it can sometimes be continuous and have a significant impact on everyday life. Severe cases can be very distressing, affect concentration, and cause problems such as difficulty sleeping

Does Tinnitus make you deaf?

Tinnitus does not make you deaf, although it may start at the same time as a hearing loss. Often as your ability to hear outside sounds decreases because of a hearing loss, your brain focuses more on your internal noises and you may then start to become aware of tinnitus.

Therefore, for those with a hearing loss, to help the brain hear the more meaningful outside sounds better again and reduce the awareness of your internal sounds, hearing aids are often recommended.

Who is affected?

Most people have experienced short periods of tinnitus after being exposed to loud noises, such as after a music concert.  In the UK, more persistent tinnitus is estimated to affect around six million people (10% of the population) to some degree, with about 600,000 (1%) experiencing it to a severity that affects their quality of life.

Treating Tinnitus:

There’s currently no single treatment for tinnitus that works for everyone. However, research to find an effective treatment is continuing. If an underlying cause of your tinnitus can be found, effectively treating it may help improve your tinnitus – for example, removing a build-up of earwax might help. If a specific cause can’t be found, treatment will focus on helping you manage the condition on a daily basis.