Tuberculosis (TB)


Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects your lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes. Tuberculosis or TB, as it’s commonly called — is a contagious infection that usually attacks your lungs. It can spread to other parts of your body, like your brain and spine. A type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes it.

Tuberculosis can also affect other parts of your body, including your kidneys, spine or brain. When TB occurs outside your lungs, signs and symptoms vary according to the organs involved. Only about 10% of people infected with M. tuberculosis ever develop tuberculosis disease.

How does tuberculosis occur?

When a patient suffering from tuberculosis sneezes, coughs, laughs or spits, they spread the TB germs into the air. Any person nearby inhaling the air with the germs can get infected. Once the bacteria enters a person’s system they concentrate and grow gradually in areas of the body that have lots of blood and oxygen. Therefore, they are almost always found in the lungs.

The incubation period may vary from about two to 12 weeks. A person may remain contagious for a long time (as long as viable TB bacteria are present in sputum) and can remain contagious until they have been on appropriate therapy for several weeks. The bacteria can cause cavities to form in the lungs. Due to the cavities, bleeding may occur in the lungs. These pockets or cavities may also become infected with other bacteria and abscesses or pockets of pus may form as a result.

Types of TB:

A TB infection doesn’t mean you’ll get sick. There are two forms of the disease:
1. Latent TB
2. Active TB

Latent TB:

In this condition, you have a TB infection, but the bacteria remain in your body in an inactive state and cause no symptoms. Latent TB, also called inactive TB or TB infection, isn’t contagious. But the infection is still alive in your body and can one day become active, for instance, you have HIV, your primary infection was in the past 2 years, your chest X-ray is abnormal, or your immune system is compromised.

Active TB:

This condition makes you sick and in most cases can spread to others. It can occur in the first few weeks after infection with the TB bacteria, or it might occur years later.

Symptoms of active TB include:

• Coughing that lasts three or more weeks
• Coughing up blood
• Feeling tired all the time
• Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
• Night sweats
• Unintentional weight loss
• fever
• Fatigue
• Chest pain
• Chills
• Weight loss
• Loss of appetite
• Tuberculosis pleuritis may occur in some people who have the lung disease from tuberculosis.

Causes of TB

• Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that spread through the air, just like a cold or the flu.
• This can happen when someone with the untreated, active form of tuberculosis coughs, speaks, sneezes, spits, laughs or sings.
• If you breathe in these germs. TB can spread from person to person, but it isn’t easy to catch.
• crowded living conditions.
• You usually have to spend a lot of time around someone who has a lot of bacilli in their lungs.
• When the bacteria cause clinically detectable disease, you have TB.
• Migration from a country with a high number of cases.
• Although tuberculosis is contagious, it’s not easy to catch. You’re much more likely to get tuberculosis from someone you live with or work with than from a stranger.
• When the bacteria cause clinically detectable disease, you have TB.


There are two common tests for tuberculosis
Skin test: This is also known as the Mantoux tuberculin skin test. A health care worker injects a small amount of fluid into the skin of your lower arm.
Blood test: These tests, also called interferon-gamma release assays or IGRAs, measure the response when TB proteins are mixed with a small amount of your blood.
They also might test for TB bacteria in your sputum, the mucus that comes up when you cough. These results will help diagnose latent or active TB.
A doctor will ask about any symptoms and the person’s medical history. They will also perform a physical examination, which involves listening to the lungs and checking for swelling in the lymph nodes.
Two tests can show whether TB bacteria are present:
• the TB skin test
• the TB blood test


Treatment takes that long because the disease organisms grow very slowly and, unfortunately, also die very slowly. If you have latent TB, your doctor will probably give you medications to kill the bacteria so you don’t develop active TB. Treatment for latent TB can varyTrusted Source. It may involve taking an antibiotic once a week for 12 weeks or every day for 9 months.
Treatment for active TB may involve taking several drugs for 6–9 monthsTrusted Source. When a person has a drug resistant strain of TB, the treatment will be more complex.
Your doctor will treat active TB with a combination of medications. You’ll take them for 6 to 12 months.


• If you have active TB, keep your germs to yourself. It generally takes a few weeks of treatment with TB medications before you’re not contagious anymore.
• Don’t go to work or school or sleep in a room with other people during the first few weeks of treatment for active tuberculosis.
• If you’re traveling to a place where TB is common, avoid getting close to or spending a lot of time in crowded places with people who have TB.
• Use a tissue to cover your mouth anytime you laugh, sneeze or cough. Put the dirty tissue in a bag, seal it and throw it away.
• Finish your entire course medicine..This is the most important step you can take to protect yourself and others from tuberculosis.
• Getting a diagnosis and treatment early
• Staying away from other people until there is no longer a risk of infection
• Wearing a mask, covering the mouth, and ventilating rooms

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