Tuberculosis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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 : Symptoms, Causes and Treatment | HealthInsta

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects your lungs. It can also spread to other parts of your body, like your brain and spine.

Types, Signs and Symptoms

A TB infection doesn’t always mean you’ll get sick. There are two forms of the disease:
  • 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. It can turn into active TB, so treatment is important for the person with latent TB and to help control the spread of TB. An estimated 2 billion people have latent TB.
  • 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.
Signs and symptoms of active TB include:
  • Coughing that lasts three or more weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
    When TB occurs outside your lungs, signs and symptoms vary according to the organs involved. For example, tuberculosis of the spine may give you back pain, and tuberculosis in your kidneys might cause blood in your urine.


    M. tuberculosis bacteria cause TB. They can spread through the air in droplets when a person with pulmonary TB coughs, sneezes, spits, laughs, or talks.

    Only people with active TB can transmit the infection. However, most people with the disease can no longer transmit the bacteria after they have received appropriate treatment for at least 2 weeks.


    With early detection and appropriate antibiotics, TB is treatable.

    The right type of antibiotic and length of treatment will depend on:
    • The person’s age and overall health.
    • Whether they have latent or active TB.
    • The location of the infection.
    • Whether the strain of TB is drug resistant.
    Treatment for latent TB can vary. 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 months. When a person has a drug resistant strain of TB, the treatment will be more complex.

    It is essential to complete the full course of treatment, even if symptoms go away. If a person stops taking their medication early, some bacteria can survive and become resistant to antibiotics. In this case, the person may go on to develop drug resistant TB.

    Depending on the parts of the body that TB affects, a doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids.

    Risk Factors

    Some health issues that weaken the immune system and can increase the risk of developing TB include:
    • HIV
    • Smoking
    • Low body weight
    • Substance abuse disorders
    • Diabetes
    • Silicosis
    • Severe kidney disease
    • Head and neck cancer
    Also, some medical treatments, such as an organ transplant, impede the functioning of the immune system.


    Ways of preventing TB from infecting others include:
    • 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.
    In some countries, children receive an anti-TB vaccination — the bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine — as part of a regular immunization program.