According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the brain, kidney, and spine.
It is possible to not get sick with TB bacteria, which is why there are two TB related conditions known as Latent TB Infection and TB Disease.
People with Latent TB Infection do not feel symptoms or get sick, due to their immune systems fighting off the bacteria. On the contrary, TB disease can be fatal if it is not treated properly. TB is a highly contagious condition that is spread in the air from one person to another when they cough or speak. The bacteria that is breathed in then settles into the infected person’s lungs and begins to grow.
According to the CDC, symptoms of TB disease in the lungs include:
- Bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer
- Coughing up blood or phlegm inside the lungs; and
- Chest pain
Other symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- No appetite
- Chills; and
- Sweating at night
Proper testing is required to see what type of TB is detected. The TB skin test and TB blood test only determine whether a person has been infected with TB bacteria. Other tests may need to be done to see if a person has Latent TB Infection or TB Disease.
The CDC states that if a person is infected with TB Disease, it is crucial that any drugs prescribed for treatment must be taken for its full course ranging from 6-9 months, or the disease can come back. If the drugs are not taken properly, the TB bacteria may become resistant to the drugs, resulting in more expensive treatment.
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