Relationship between Diabetes and Tuberculosis

Updated at: Jun 26, 2013
Relationship between Diabetes and Tuberculosis

Diabetes is very intrinsically linked to tuberculosis because the extreme fluctuations in blood sugar levels weaken their immunity and make them susceptible to infections.

Dr. Beena Bansal - Expert
Communicable DiseasesWritten by: Dr. Beena Bansal - ExpertPublished at: Mar 19, 2012

Relationship between Diabetes and Tuberculosis

Diabetes is very intrinsically linked to tuberculosis. However, very little attention is paid to the fact that diabetics are at a higher risk of tuberculosis than non-diabetics. Tuberculosis can in fact become a life-threatening situation for diabetics as their immune system is incapacitated to handle the onslaught of the tuberculosis bacteria.


[Read: Treatment of TB]

The Relationship between Tuberculosis and Diabetes:


  • Diabetics whose blood sugar levels are not kept within check will be more susceptible to tuberculosis. The risk of tuberculosis in such patients is high because the fluctuating blood sugar level weakens their immunity. It is further propelled by the fact that if such a diabetic is living in an area where the incidence of tuberculosis if high, then there is very little that can be done to avoid an infection. This has also been established by a research conducted at the School of Public Health at the University of Texas in the Brownsville Regional Campus.
  • The risk of tuberculosis in diabetics is also increased because diabetics can contract the more severe forms of tuberculosis such as multiple drug resistant TB. In such cases, their period of recovery is increased and there are also chances of a relapse.
  • According to the World Health organization, the risk of tuberculosis in diabetics is at least 2 to 3 times higher than in non-diabetics.
  • Research has also shown that people with diabetes respond to anti-tuberculosis treatment at a much slower rate. Moreover, in most cases, the diagnosis of tuberculosis in diabetics happens at a very late stage which increases the chances of failure.


[Read: Risk Factors of Tuberculosis]


Reducing the Risk of Tuberculosis in Diabetics:


  • The best way to reduce the risk of tuberculosis in diabetics is the control of one’s blood sugar levels.
  • If there is someone in the family who is suffering from tuberculosis then patients of diabetics should take extra precautions as they can easily contract the disease. In such a scenario if possible diabetics should not come into any form of contact with the tuberculosis patient so as to avoid infection.
  • Tuberculosis is an air borne disease. Therefore, it is highly likely that anyone can catch it. Therefore, all diabetics should be screened for tuberculosis and vice versa. This is important because the risk of tuberculosis might prove to be detrimental for diabetics.
  • Finally, more awareness needs to be spread about the relationship between tuberculosis and diabetics and especially in areas where the incidence of TB is high. In this manner, early detection of tuberculosis in diabetics can become possible.



Read more articles on Understand Tuberculosis.




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