What are the Symptoms of Tuberculosis and At What Point Should You Start Worrying?
Tuberculosis is a disease that mainly infects your lungs. It can get pretty deadly when it’s infected all your body parts especially young lungs.Tuberculosis (TB) is curable and treatable but if the bacteria have infected your brain, spine or kidneys and you don’t get proper treatment anytime soon, there is a high chance you might die. So, what are the symptoms of tuberculosis? And at what point should you begin doing proper treatment for it?
Someone might catch TB virus through the air due to an individual who is positive with TB diagnosis speaks, sings, sneeze or coughs and thus causing the bacteria to float into the air. Even though the TB bacteria have already entered your body but sometimes your immune system can fight them and prevent you from becoming ill. Therefore, doctors create these distinctions to distinguish between latent TB and active TB.
- If you are diagnosed with a latent TB that means you officially have TB disease. However, the bacteria harbored in your body remain inactive and thus no symptoms are visible and this is mostly what causes people to ask this question: what are the symptoms of tuberculosis?all the time. Latent TB is also known as TB infection or inactive TB. It’s not contagious but there is a chance it can become an active TB so proper and immediate treatment is highly recommended in order to control and stop the spread of TB bacteria. Statistically speaking, there is over 2 billion people who have latent TB.
- On the other hand, an active TB makes you sick and it can affect others. It occurs in the first few weeks after your body is infected with TB bacteria but in some cases it may also occur years later.
Active TB has the following symptoms:
- Coughing for three weeks or more
- Coughing up blood
- Pain when breathing and coughing or chest pain
- Sudden weight loss
- Night sweats
- Unintentional loss of appetite
Symptoms sometimes might vary depending on the organ that is affected in your body. For instance, TB bacteria that infects your spine might give you back pain and blood in your urine if the bacteria got in your kidneys.
What Should You Do?
Go to your doctor immediately if you experience sudden weight loss, fever, night sweats or cough that won’t stop. All of them occurring at the same time can very well be the signs of TB disease. Your doctor then can perform tests to determine what the underlying cause is. Furthermore, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that individuals who have an increased risk of TB be screened for inactive TB infection. Such individuals are:
Read More : Tuberculosis Vaccine: Why is It Imperative?
- People with HIV or AIDS
- IV drug users
- People who have contact with TB infected individuals
- Hospital workers who treat people with high risks of TB
Your days of saying “what are the symptoms of tuberculosis?” is over now that you have stumbled upon this article. We hope this might enlighten you in one way or another.
For diagnosing TB a doctor will at first perform a physical exam. Using a stethoscope he listens to the sounds your lungs make when you breathe, and he will also check your lymph nodes.
Depending on his findings he might ask you to go for
- A skin test: The skin test involves injecting a substance PPD tuberculin just below the skin of your inside forearm. After 48 to 72 hours, if you have TB, there will be a noticeable, hard, red swelling at the injected site.
- Blood tests: Blood tests are done to ascertain the presence of TB bacterium in the body of the patient. Blood tests do not, however, ensure if the patient has latent TB infection or it has progressed to active TB infection.
- A chest x-ray: A chest x-ray can show the extent of damage to the lungs, and if further tests are required.
- A CT scan: CT scans provide more-detailed images than X-rays do. A CT scan can show if your immune system has cordoned off any TB bacteria, or the extent of damage to the lungs in case of active TB.
- Sputum test: This test is performed on the mucus that comes out with your cough. It can reveal TB bacteria if any.
What are the complications of tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis can cause numerous health complications such as:
- back pain and stiffness
- joint damage due to tuberculous arthritis especially in the hips and knees
- meningitis, due to swelling of the membranes that cover your brain which can cause headaches
- impaired liver or kidney functions, if tuberculosis spreads to the liver and kidneys
- heart disorders if tuberculosis infects the tissues surrounding your heart. This can cause inflammation and fluid collections which can, in turn, disrupt the normal functioning of your heart including your heart’s ability to pump effectively. A condition called cardiac tamponade may occur which can be fatal.
What is the treatment of tuberculosis?
It is extremely important that you follow the treatment religiously if you suffer from TB. Treating tuberculosis can be a lengthy process compared to other bacterial infections.
Depending on your overall health, your age, possible drug resistance, the form of TB you have (latent or active) and the location of the infection in your body, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics which you may need to take for up to nine months.
Some short-term treatments (up to four months) are also available these days. Please consult your doctor for more information about what treatment suits you better.