Understanding Tuberculosis (TB)


Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially dangerous infectious disease that principally affects your lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via sneezing and coughs.

Once uncommon in developed countries, tuberculosis infections began growing in 1985 partially because of the appearance of HIV, the virus that causes AIDs. HIV reduces a person’s immune system so it can not fit the TB germs. IN the United States TB began to decline again in 1993, based on the stronger control programs and remains concerns.

Many strains of tuberculosis resist the medications most used to manage the disease. People with active tuberculosis must take serval types of medications for many months to eradicate the infection and prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.

The body may host bacteria that cause tuberculosis; your immune system usually can stop you from becoming sick. For this reason, physicians make a contrast between,

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 is also called TB infection, or inactive TB is not communicable. It can turn into active TB, so treatment is necessary for the person with latent TB and to help regulate the spread of TB. An estimated 2 billion people have latent TB.

Active TB is a condition that makes you sick and can be spread to other/ It can happen in the first few weeks following an infection with the TB bacteria, or it may occur ears later.

Signs of symptoms of active TB include

Coughing that last three or more weeks

  1. Cheat, pain with breathing and coughing
  2. Coughing up blood
  3. Fever
  4. Night Sweats
  5. Loss of appetite
  6. Fatigue
  7. Chills

Tuberculosis can also affect other areas of the body, including your kidneys, brain or spine. When TB occurs outside your lungs, symptoms and signs vary based on which organs are involved. For instance, tuberculosis of the spine can give you back pain. Tuberculosis that occurs in your kidney can cause blood in the urine.

When to see a doctor:

You should see a doctor when you have a fever, excessive night seats or persistent coughing, unexplained loss in weight. These are often signs of TB. However, the can also result from other medical problems. You doctor may perform a test to help streamline the cause.

The Center for Devices Control and Prevention recommends that people who have an increased risk of tuberculosis be screened for latent TB infection The recommendation includes

  1. IV drug users
  2. Those in contact with infected individual
  3. Health cares workers who treat people with a high risk of TB
    People with HIV/AIDs.


Tuberculosis is caused bacteria that spread from person to person within microscopic droplets discharged into the air. This can occur when someone with the untreated, active form of tuberculosis coughs, speaks, spits, laughs, sings or sneezes.

Even though the disease is contagious, it is not easy to catch from some. You are more likely to get tuberculosis from someone you live with rather than someone who is a stranger. Most people with active TB and the proper drug treatment for at least two weeks are longer contagious.

HIV and TB

Following the 1980s, the number of cases of tuberculosis has grown dramatically because of the spread of HIVm the virus that causes AIDs. Infection with HIV overcomes the immune system, making it challenging for the body to control TB bacteria. Thus people with HIV are much more likely to contract TB and to rogues from latent to active disease than individuals who are not HIV positive

Drug-resistant TB

Another reason tuberculosis remains fatal disease is the increase in drug -resistant strains of the bacterium. Considering the first antibiotics were used to fight the disease more than 60 years ago, some TB germs have started to surface and can get passed on to their descendants.

Drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis emerge when an antibiotic fails to kill off the bacteria it targets. The surviving backer becomes resistant to that bacteria and frequently other antibiotics as well. Some TB bacteria have developed resistance to some of the most prevalent treatments such as rifampin and isoniazid.
Some strain of TB has also developed resistance to drugs less commonly used in TB treatment, such as the antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, injectable medications, such as kanamycin and capreomycin, amikacin. These drugs are also used to treat infections that are resistant to the more commonly used drugs.

Risk Factors – Anyone can get tuberculosis. However, several factors increase risk.
Weakened Immune system
A healthy immune system can fight off TB bacteria, however, if the body can not adequately defend itself and your resistance is low. Some disease and medications can weaken your immune system.

  • Diabetes
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Cancers
  • Chemotherapy, cancer treatment
  • Malnutrition
  • Very young or Advanced age
  • Some medications for Crohn’s disease rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis
  • Drugs to prevent rejection of transplanted organs

Traveling or Living in particular areas

The risk of contracting tuberculosis is higher for people who travel to regions and countries with high rates of tuberculosis and drug resistance tuberculosis.

  • Asia
  • Russia
  • Latin America
  • Africa
  • Carribean Island
  • Eastern Europe

Poverty and substance abuse

Lack of medical care. If you receive a low of fixed income, lived in a remote area, have newly migrated to the United States of America, or are homeless, you may need access to the medical care required to diagnose and treat TB.
Tobacco use Using tobacco greatly increase the risk of getting TB and dying of it
Substance abuse. IV drug use or alcohol abuse impairs your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to tuberculosis.

Where you work or Live

Health care work- Regular contact with people who have illnesses can increase your chance of exposure to TB bacteria, washing you frequently had and wear mask, significantly reduces your risk.

Living or working in a residential care facility – People who live or work in immigration centers, prisons, or nursing homes, are at higher risk of contracting tuberculosis. Poor ventilation and overcrowding increase the risk of the disease.

Living in a shelter or refugee camp – Poor nutrition and ill heath and living in crowded, unsanitary conditions, refugees, and homes are an exceptionally high risk of tuberculosis infection.


Without treatment, tuberculosis can be fatal. The untreated active disease typically affects your lungs, but it can spread to other parts of your body through you bloodstream. Examples of tuberculosis complications include.

Joint Damage – Tuberculosis arthritis usually affects the hip and knees
Spinal pain – Back pain and stiffness are common complications of tuberculosis

Swelling of the membranes that encase your brain (meningitis) This can cause intermittent or lasting teaches that occur for weeks. Mental changes are also possible.

Liver or kidney problems. Your kidneys and livers help filter waste and impurities from your bloodstream. These functions become impaired if the kidney is affected by tuberculosis

Heart disorders – Rarely tuberculosis can infect the tissues that surround your heart, causing inflammation and fluid collections that may change your heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. This condition is called cardiac tamponade, which can be fatal.


During the physical exam, you physician will check your lymph nodes for enlargement and use a stethoscope to monitor carefully to the sounds your lungs make while you breathe.

The most prevalent diagnostic tool used for tuberculosis is a simple skin test, though blood test is becoming more common. A small amount of a substance called PPPD tuberculin is injected just under the skin of your inside forearm. You should only feel a slight needle prick.

Within 48 to 72 hours, a health care professional will check your arm for swelling at the injection site. A solid, raised red bump means you’re likely to have TB infection. The size of the bump determines whether the test results is significant.


Results can be in Error

The TB skin test isn’t always 100% accurate. Sometimes, it may suggest that people have TB when they don’t Skin test can also show people not having TB when they do.
A false-positive test may occur if you have been vaccinated recently with the Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine. This tuberculosis vaccine is rarely used in the United States and is also extensively employed in countries with high TV infection rates.

A false-positive result can occur within certain population segments. Specifically older people and children, people with AIDs may not be responsive to the skin test. A false-negative outcome can also occur in people who have recently been affected by TB, people with immune systems haven’t yet reacted to the bacteria.

Blood tests

A blood test may be used to confirm or rule out latent or tuberculosis. These tests are much more sophisticated technology than the skin test, allowing for the measurement of the immune system’s reaction to TB bacteria. T-Spot and QuantiFERON-TB Gold in tube test, are two popular TB test.

These tests require only one office visit. A blood test may be useful if you are a high-risk TB infection, and recently received BCG vaccine or have negative responses to the skin test.

Imaging test

If you have a positive skin test, your doctor is likely to order a chest X-ray or a CT scan. This may show white spots inside the lungs where your immune system has blocked of TB bacteria, or it may reveal differences in your lungs caused by active tuberculosis. CT scans provide more detailed images than do X-rays.

Spectrum Test
IF you chest, X-ray shows signs of tuberculosis, you doctor may take samples of your sputum, The mucus that comes up when you a cough. The samples are tested for TB bacteria.

Sputum samples can be used to test for drug -resistance strains of TB. This assists your doctor to choose the medications that are likely to work. These test can take four to eight weeks to be completed.

Treatment for TB

Medications are critical for tuberculosis treatment. However treating TB takes a much longer time to treat than other types of bacterial infections.

With tuberculosis, you must take antibiotics for a least six to nine months. The specific drugs and length of treatment depend on your age, overall health potential drug resistance, the type of TB (latent or active ) and the infection’s position in the body.

Recent research suggests that a shorter term of treatment – four months instead of nine – with coming medication may be useful in keeping latent TB from becoming active TB. With the shorter course of therapy, people are more likely to take all their medicinal products, and the risk of side effects is reduced. Studies are ongoing.

Most Common TB Drugs

If you have latent tuberculosis, you may require taking just one type of TB drug. Active tuberculosis, especially if it’s a drug-resistant strain, will require several drugs at once. The most common medication that used to treat tuberculosis include:

  • Pyrazinamide
  • Ethambutol Myambutol
  • Rifampin (Rifadin Rimactane
  • Isoniazid

If you have drug-resistant TB, a mixture of antibiotics referred to as fluoroquinolones and injectable drugs, such as kanamycin, amikacin or capreomycin, are used for 20 to 30 months. Some types of TB are developing resistance to these drugs as well.

Some new drugs are being looked at as add-on therapy to the current drug- resistant combination treatment including Linezolid Bedaquiline

TB tuberculosis

Medication side effects

Serious side effects of TB drugs are not common but can be dangerous they do occur, All tuberculosis medicines can be highly toxic to you liver when taking these medications, call your physician promptly if you experience any of the following

  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark Urine
  • A fever that lasts three or more days and has no apparent cause
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Completing treatments are essential
After a few weeks, you won’t be infectious, and you may start to fell better. It might be tempting to stop taking your TB drugs. But it crucial that you finish the full course of therapy and take the prescriptions exactly as directed by your doctor. Ending treatment too soon or skipping doses can allow bacteria that are still living to become resistant to those drugs, causing TB to be much more dangerous and difficult to treat.