How Do You Get Leprosy?

Hansen’s disease or leprosy disease does not usually spread very easily. Especially when the person who is having it and is being treated for the same, is less likely to spread the disease. Those who have the disease and are not getting treatment can spread the disease to others.

It usually gets transmitted through the air. The infected person releases the tiny droplets which contain the Mycobacterium leprae, the bacteria that causes the disease. These bacteria get released into the air when the infected person simply breathes, coughs, and sneezes openly.

The bacteria released contaminates the environment and people who are around the infected person may inhale the tiny droplets, which can potentiate their chances of developing the disease. The disease can also happen after sexual contact with the infected person.

Even if a healthy person inhales the droplets through the air, their body may fight off the bacteria due to a strong immune response. People with high immunity may not get easily affected by the infectious bacteria, as their body is capable of warding off the disease.

Should you have a fear of contagion?

Leprosy is not that contagious. It is not easily spread from person to person. A normal individual is capable of warding off the leprosy bacteria with their immune system’s quick response. Those with weak immunity may not be able to keep themselves protected against the disease. The disease usually spreads when you are in close physical proximity to the infected individual. So, try to avoid being around an infected individual.

In case you cannot help but be around them even for a short time, then you must see your doctor immediately. People with poor immunity are more prone to infection. Early diagnosis and treatment will prevent the progression of the disease and will eventually reduce the risk of health complications. Additionally,children are more susceptible to infection, therefore, they need extra care and attention.

What are the symptoms of leprosy?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the person with leprosy may show some main symptoms that are listed below:

  • Appearance of painless patches on the skin, which are lighter than the normal skin tone.
  • The patches on the skin cause loss of sensation or numbness.
  • Numbness and loss of sensation in the arms, legs, feet, and hands because of nerve damage.
  • Lump formation all over the skin.
  • Muscle weakness.

Some people may also experience several additional symptoms of this disease, which include:

  • Enlargement of peripheral nerves.
  • Loss of eyebrows and eyelashes.
  • Thickening and stiffening of skin.
  • Nasal congestion and nose bleeding.

Those with an advanced stage might experience some severe symptoms of the disease, which are as follows:

  • Disfiguration of the nose due to nasal inner skin damage.
  • Loss of vision.
  • Paralysis and crippling of hands or feet.
  • Permanent damage to the legs and hands.
  • Appearance of ulcers on the bottom of the feet.
  • Shortening of the limbs, feet, and hands.

The progression of the disease potentiates the risk of health complications, such as kidney failure, blindness, hair loss, disfiguration of face, hands, and legs, erectile dysfunction in men, and severe muscle weakness. However, this can be prevented through treatment. The sooner the person takes action to get the diagnosis and treatment, the faster the recovery. Timely treatment will eliminate the risk of health complications due to disease progression.

The development of the symptoms might happen very slowly. The bacteria may take a long time to give indications. The person affected by the infection may be totally unaware of the underlying disease. The symptoms may appear after some years.

Generally, it takes between 3 to 5 years for the symptoms to be visible. Sometimes, it might even take a decade or two for the symptoms to show up. This makes the disease highly undetectable.

Diagnostic evaluation of leprosy

For performing a diagnostic test, your healthcare provider will conduct physical examinations and collect some samples from the skin, to be sent to the lab for further examinations. This procedure is known as skin biopsy, which involves the removal of a small portion of your skin and the specimen will be tested in the lab for confirming the disease and its type.

In case of nerve damage, the nerve sample will be sent for biopsy. The specimen will be checked under the microscope and several tests will be done on that, which will be helpful in ruling out the other types of skin disease.

Treatment of leprosy

Based on the diagnostic test report, your healthcare provider will prescribe you some medications for treatment. If the disease is affecting the skin, they will prescribe antibiotics, which are medications that prevent the progression of the infection. The treatment may involve a combination of several medications, as it might require more than one type of drug to control and cure the condition. One must get the condition treated in time; otherwise, its progression can cause serious health damage.



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