Tuberculosis (TB) Awareness
What is TB?
is short for tuberculosis, a disease that is caused by a bacterium
(Mycobacterium Tuberculosis) and is spread from
person to person through the air. TB usually
affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the
brain, the kidneys, or the spine. A person with TB can die if they do not get
What are the symptoms of TB?
The general symptoms of TB disease include fatigue, weight loss,
fever, chills, night sweats and loss of appetite. The symptoms of TB disease of
the lungs also include coughing, chest pain, and hemoptysis (coughing up blood).
Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body are different and depend on
the area affected.
How is TB spread?
TB germs are passed through
the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, laughs,
sings, or sneezes. Anyone nearby can breathe in these TB germs and can become
infected – this is called latent TB infection (LTBI). The longer you are
exposed to the airborne germs, the greater your risk is for becoming infected
with TB. People with LTBI cannot pass TB germs to others, but if left
undetected and untreated, latent TB infection can turn into active TB disease,
which can be passed on to others.
What is the difference between latent TB infection
and TB disease?
People with latent TB infection have TB germs in their
bodies, but they are not sick because the germs are not active – they have a
strong enough immune system to keep the germs from multiplying. These people do
not have symptoms of TB disease, and they cannot spread the germs to others.
However they may progress to TB disease (see below). This may occur for
no known reason or may be because they develop other chronic illnesses or their
immune system becomes compromised. People with latent TB infection can take
medicine for several months to help prevent them from developing TB disease.
People with TB disease are sick from TB germs that are
active, meaning that the germs are multiplying and destroying tissue in their
body. They usually have symptoms of TB disease. People with TB disease of the
lungs or throat are capable of spreading germs to others. They can take
medicine for up to a year or more to treat TB disease.
How is TB disease treated?
TB disease can be treated by taking several specific medicines for
6 to 12 months. It is very important that people who have TB disease finish the
medicine and that they take the medicine exactly as prescribed. If they stop
taking the medicine too soon, they can become sick again; if they do not take the
medicine correctly, the germs that are still alive may become resistant to
those drugs. TB that is resistant to drugs is harder and more expensive to
treat. In some situations, staff from the local health department meet
regularly with patients who have TB to watch them take their medicine. This is
called directly observed therapy (DOT). DOT
helps the patient complete treatment correctly and in the least amount of time.
Who should get evaluated for TB?
with symptoms of TB
born in a country where TB is common
who have spent a lot of time around someone with TB disease
with certain medical conditions (i.e., HIV infection, high blood sugar)
people entering school
who live or have lived in shelters or other congregate settings
who are or have been incarcerated
do not know for sure if they have TB infection unless they have been tested for
How can you be evaluated for TB?
- Tuberculin Skin Test, or TST (sometimes called a PPD)
A health care worker
administers the TB skin test on the person's arm. 48-72 hours (2-3 days) after
the test, the health care worker checks the tested area of the arm for a specific
type of reaction.
This test may be used based
upon your risk. Your healthcare provider will determine if this test is
appropriate for you.
can you be evaluated for TB?
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