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Disease prevention and treatment

Causes, Symptoms And Treatments For Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that usually affects the lungs, though it can affect any organ in the body. It can develop when bacteria spread through droplets in the air. TB can be fatal, but in many cases, it is preventable and treatable.

A person may develop TB after inhaling Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) bacteria, primarily from person to person.

When TB affects the lungs, the disease is the most contagious, but a person will usually only become sick after close contact with someone who has this type of TB.

An individual can have TB bacteria in their body and never develop symptoms. In most people, the immune system can contain the bacteria so that they do not replicate and cause disease. In this case, a person will have TB infection but not active disease.

Doctors refer to this as latent TB. An individual may never experience symptoms and be unaware that they have the infection. There is also no risk of passing on a latent infection to someone else. However, a person with latent TB still requires treatment.

The risk of developing active TB is higher in:

Anyone with a weakened immune system

Anyone who first developed the infection in the past 2–5 years

Older adults and young children

People who inject recreational drugs

People who have not previously received appropriate treatment for TB


Latent TB: A person with latent TB will have no symptoms, and no damage will show on a chest X-ray. However, a blood test or skin prick test will indicate that they have TB infection.

Active TB: An individual with TB disease may experience a cough that produces phlegm, fatigue, a fever, chills, and a loss of appetite and weight. Symptoms typically worsen over time, but they can also spontaneously go away and return.

Early warning signs

A person should see a doctor if they experience:

A persistent cough, lasting at least 3 weeks

phlegm, which may have blood in it, when they cough

A loss of appetite and weight

A general feeling of fatigue and being unwell

swelling in the neck

A fever

Night sweats

Chest pain


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 someone 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 for people 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.

Content created and supplied by: Naplibs (via Opera News )

Mycobacterium TB


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