1. Health & Lifestyle

Tuberculosis (TB): What are the Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Treatment?

KJ Staff
KJ Staff

Tuberculosis is also known as "TB". It is a disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It mainly infects lungs but can also spread to other body parts like brain and spinal cord. Those infections which do not have symptoms, is known as latent tuberculosis. Nearly 10% of latent infections progress to active disease which if left untreated kills about half of those affected.

Spinal tuberculosis is a type of tuberculosis that occurs outside the lungs where disease is seen in the vertebrae. It can affect several tissues outside the lungs including the spine cord, also a kind of tuberculosis in joints. It is very dangerous type of Tuberculosis. Therefore early diagnosis and management of spinal Tuberculosis is important in preventing future complications.

Brain tuberculosis : The bacteria will travel to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord is called  meninges. Infected meninges has life-threatening conditions and is known as  meningeal tuberculosis but TB in brain is rare and it could cause a long term damage or even kill the patient.

Lungs tuberculosis : Infection in lungs due to Mycobacterium is called lungs tuberculosis. This can cause permanent damage to lungs.

How does Tuberculosis affect our body?

There are two forms of the disease:

Latent Tuberculosis : You have the bacteria in your body but immune system stops them from spreading, which  means you don’t have any symptoms and you’re not contagious. But the infection is still alive in your body and can become active any day.

Active Tuberculosis disease: This means the bacteria can multiply and can make you sick and the diseases can be spread to others . 90% of adult cases of active Tuberculosis are from the reactivation of a latent Tuberculosis infection.


Causes of TB

The Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium causes Tuberclosis. It is spread through the air when a person with lungs tuberculosis coughs, sneezes, spits, laughs, or talks. It is contagious, but it is not easy to catch.

Symptoms of TB

During a latent stage, TB has no symptoms i.e when TB is inactive . When TB is active cough, fever, and other symptoms can appear. As TB affects lungs and other parts of body so symptoms will vary accordingly.

Tuberculosis in brain: It can lead to meningitis.

In bones: There may be spinal pain and joint destruction.

The liver and kidneys: Blood in urine

The heart: Cardiac tamponade and impare the ability to pump blood.

Lungs: Cough for 3 or more weeks, chest pain, night sweats, chills, fever, weight loss and loss of appetite.


To diagnose TB, a doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to the lungs and  will check for swelling in the lymph nodes. The most common diagnostic test for TB is a skin test. Doctor will inject you with PPD tuberculin inside your forearm and the injection site will be checked after two to three day. If the site is hard, red and swollen that means TB is present but skin test is not 100% accurate. Potential side effects should be reported to a doctor that may include Dark urine, Fever, Jaundice or Nausea.

Treatment of TB

There are more than twenty drugs available for treatment.

First line drugs for treatment are





For new patients, for the two month intensive TB treatment and they should receive


plus rifampicin

plus pyrazinamide

plus ethambutol

Followed by


plus rifampicin

It is recommended that patients should take drugs every day for six months

Note : don't take these drugs without consulting a doctor.

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