What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs but can also target other organs and parts of the body. TB is easily spread through the air through air droplets. TB has been a significant global health concern for centuries, and despite advances in medicine, it remains a leading cause of death from infectious diseases worldwide.

Symptoms of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis infection
Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is a easily spread through the air as air droplets, which can be too small to see.

Tuberculosis can have a wide range of symptoms, which can vary in intensity and presentation. Common symptoms include persistent cough, weight loss, fever, fatigue, and coughing up blood. Anyone who comes into contact with these respiratory droplet scan be infected with TB.

A TB infection is classified as latent or active. Latent TB means that the bacteria that causes TB are present in the body. However, these bacteria are considered dormant or inactive. Active TB means that the bacteria that causes TB are not considered asleep, but “awake” and actively causing harm to the body.

Some of the common symptoms include:

Persistent Cough

A cough that lasts for more than three weeks is a common sign of pulmonary TB. Initially, the cough may be dry, but it can later produce sputum, which may be blood-tinged.

Weight Loss

Unexplained weight loss and wasting away are frequent symptoms of TB. The infection can lead to a loss of appetite and difficulty absorbing nutrients.

Fever and/or Chills

Many TB patients experience intermittent low-grade fever, especially during the evening, along with chills and sweating.

Tuberculosis symptoms
Tuberculosis can exhibit a variety of symptoms including, fever, fatigue, weight loss, and coughing up blood.


TB can cause significant fatigue and weakness, making it challenging for individuals to carry out daily activities.

Decreased Appetite

Loss of appetite and consequent weight loss are common features of TB infection.

Night Sweats

Profuse sweating, particularly at night, is a classic symptom of TB, often causing sleep disturbances.

How do you diagnosis tuberculosis?

Diagnosis and Testing for Tuberculosis: Early diagnosis of TB is crucial for effective treatment and to prevent its spread.

Several diagnostic tests are available to detect TB:

Tuberculin Skin Test (TST)

Also known as the Mantoux test, this is a simple and widely used test to identify exposure to TB bacteria. A small amount of TB antigen is injected under the skin, and the healthcare provider evaluates the reaction after 48-72 hours.

Interferon-Gamma Release Assays (IGRAs)

These blood tests check for the presence of specific proteins released by the immune system in response to TB bacteria. IGRAs are an alternative to the TST, offering more convenience and specificity.

Chest X-ray

Tuberculosis visible on x-ray and ct scan
Tuberculosis is visible on an x-ray and CT scan.

An X-ray of the chest can reveal abnormalities such as nodules, cavities, or infiltrates in the lungs that are suggestive of TB.

Chest CT Scan

Computed tomography (CT) scan provides more detailed images of the lungs and can help identify small lesions that may be missed on a chest X-ray.

Sputum Tests

Collecting and analyzing sputum samples can help identify the presence of TB bacteria. Multiple samples may be required to increase the chances of detection.


Tuberculosis Treatment

The treatment of tuberculosis usually involves a combination of antibiotics to prevent the development of drug resistance. Most are a combination of antibiotics and maintaining the treatment regimen, which is essential for successful outcomes. The most common drugs used for TB treatment are isoniazid, rifampin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide. The treatment regimen for TB typically lasts for six to nine months. Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) is a strategy where a healthcare provider ensures that patients take their medications as directed. This approach is especially useful in preventing treatment non-adherence and the development of drug-resistant TB strains.

Surgery may be considered in specific cases of TB, such as:

Drug-Resistant TB:

When TB strains are resistant to multiple medications, surgery can help remove infected lung tissue, reducing the bacterial load.


TB can lead to complications like a lung abscess or bronchiectasis, which may require surgical intervention.

Diagnostic Purposes

In some cases, surgery may be needed to obtain tissue samples for a definitive diagnosis.

Surgical treatment of TB involves removing the affected portion of the lung (lobectomy) or, in severe cases, removing the entire lung (pneumonectomy). Surgery is typically reserved for cases where medical therapy alone is insufficient or ineffective. Timely diagnosis, appropriate medical therapy, and, if necessary, surgical treatment are crucial in effectively managing tuberculosis and preventing its spread.

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