Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis -- or TB, as it’s commonly called -- is a contagious infection that usually attacks your lungs. It can spread to other parts of your body, like your brain and spine. A type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes it. In the early 20th century, TB was a leading cause of death in the United States. Today, most cases are cured with antibiotics. But it takes a long time. You have to take meds for at least 6 to 9 months. In the 20th century, TB was a leading cause of death in the United States. Today, most cases are cured with antibiotics. But it takes a long time. You have to take meds for at least 6 to 9 months.


Tuberculosis Types

  • Latent TB. You have the germs in your body, but your immune system stops them from spreading. That means you don’t have any symptoms and you’re not contagious. But the infection is still alive in your body and can one day become active. If you’re at high risk for re-activation -- for instance, you have HIV, your primary infection was in the past 2 years, your chest X-ray is abnormal, or your immune system is compromised --- your doctor will treat you with antibiotics to lower the risk for developing active TB.
  • Active TB. This means the germs multiply and can make you sick. You can spread the disease to others. Ninety percent of adult cases of active TB are from the reactivation of a latent TB infection.


Tuberculosis Signs and Symptoms

  • A cough that lasts more than 3 weeks
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Night sweats
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
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