What does consumption mean?

Tuberculosis is tuberculosis. This infectious disease, also known as "white plague" or "pale dying", resembled a devastating spread of disease. As it used to be common knowledge that the exact names of diseases were not known, it was easy to describe certain typical features. The name "consumption" is attributable to a significant symptom: the serious weight loss.

Historical background

Already 3, 000-year-old documents from China and India bear witness to the disease. In ancient times, it was the Greek doctors Hippocrates and Galen, who were the first to commit to the consumption of tobacco, to observe and document it. On March 24, 1882 Robert Koch announced in a meeting of the Berlin Physiological Society the discovery of the tubercle bacillus (Mycobacterium tuberculosis).

Symptoms of consumption

The pathogens, rod-shaped bacteria, are taken up by the respiratory tract and then settle in the lungs or can infect the entire organism in the later course. Patients complain, among other things, about the following symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • anorexia
  • Sweating in the night
  • to cough
  • "Hemoptysis"

One speaks of an "open pulmonary tuberculosis", which is highly contagious and urgently needs medical treatment if the bacteria, for example by cough, are released into the environment. If this is not the case, it is a "closed tuberculosis", which is also in need of treatment.

Consumption: current status

Worldwide, around 2 billion people are tuberculosis-infected, and every year about 9 million people fall ill again. Although there are now very effective medicines, about 2 million people still die each year as a result of the disease.

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