Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis.  The bacteria usually attacks the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body like the brain, lymph nodes, skin, intestines and spine. TB spreads through the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or talks. 

Girl coughing while doctor is testing

Tuberculosis Is of Two Types: Latent And Active.

Latent TB:

The bacteria is in an inactive state in the body, that causes no symptoms and not contagious, but can become active.

Active TB

The bacteria is in an active state and cause symptoms, which can also spread to others.

When TB is active, it shows characteristic symptoms such as a cough, fever, and other symptoms can appear. It usually affects the lungs, but other parts of the body can also get affected where symptoms vary accordingly. Without proper treatment TB can spread to other parts through bloodstream and can be fatal too.

Signs And Symptoms

  • A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • Pain in the chest
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills and night sweats.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Common diagnostic tests for tuberculosis include AFB (acid fast bacillus) smear and culture of sputum, chest x-ray, Mantoux tuberculin skin testing and molecular diagnosis to determine the presence of the gene of TB bacteria in sputum.

However, prevention of TB is carried out by vaccination of BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine to children. Antibiotics are usually recommended to treat TB, which are required to be taken for a longer duration and the standard course of TB antibiotics is about 6 months.