Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious and infectious bacterial disease that mainly attacks the lungs.
Tuberculosis can also affect other parts of your body, including your kidneys, spine or brain. When TB occurs outside your lungs, signs and symptoms vary according to the organs involved. For example, tuberculosis of the spine may give you back pain, and tuberculosis in your kidneys might cause blood in your urine.
Tuberculosis is curable and preventable. The only time that TB may not be curable is when the person has drug resistant TB.
How tuberculosis is spread
TB is spread through the air from one person to another when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings.
When a person breathes in TB bacteria, the bacteria can settle in the lungs and begin to grow. From there, they can move through the blood to other parts of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain.
Forms of tuberculosis
1. Latent TB
In this condition, you have a TB infection, but the bacteria remain in your body in an inactive state and cause no symptoms. Latent TB, also called inactive TB or TB infection, isn’t contagious.
People with latent TB infection:
- Have no symptoms
- Don’t feel sick
- Can’t spread TB bacteria to others
- Usually have a positive TB skin test reaction or positive TB blood test
- May develop TB disease if they do not receive treatment for latent TB infection
2. Active TB
This condition makes you sick and in most cases can spread to others. It can occur in the first few weeks after infection with the TB bacteria, or it might occur years later.
Signs and symptoms of active TB
- Coughing that lasts three or more weeks
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
- Unintentional weight loss
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite
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