Tuberculosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Tuberculosis treatment


Worldwide, a huge number of people get infected with Tuberculosis, commonly known as TB, every year. Although cases of TB rapidly fell due to proper awareness and treatment, a good amount of cases still can be seen.

Patients with active tuberculosis should be diagnosed as early as possible and must take proper and effective medications for months to get rid of it.

 What are the symptoms of Tuberculosis?

When someone harbors the bacterium causing tuberculosis, their immune system generally can prevent the infection and can save them from becoming sick. There are different kinds of TB infection, such as,

Latent TB: When someone has a TB infection, but the bacteria remains inactive in their body, it does not show any symptoms. It is also known as inactive TB, which isn’t contagious. However, with time, latent TB can turn into a case of active TB infection, so people are advised to get themselves checked and undergo proper treatment as per their stage of infection.

Although people with inactive TB do not show any symptoms, they may show a positive skin reaction test or blood test.

Active TB: This kind of TB is contagious and can make people very sick. In this kind, people can get infected with the bacteria but can show signs after weeks or even years.

People with active TB can show the following symptoms,

  • A persistent cough (for three weeks or more)
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Night sweats
  • Chills
  • Chest pain, with heavy breathing or coughing
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Continuous Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

The TB infection can also affect other body parts, like kidneys, spine, or brain. Symptoms of TB infecting such organs vary according to the organ type. For example, people infected with spine tuberculosis will suffer from symptoms like persistent back pain, while tuberculosis infection in the kidneys might cause secretion of blood in their urine.

 How is Tuberculosis spread?

When a TB-infected person with active pulmonary infection disease coughs, sneezes, talks, or laughs, infectious droplets containing the TB bacteria are released into the air. People who breathe in such TB bacteria can be infected.

However, not all such people will become sick, as many of them will be able to fight the TB bacteria and stop it from further growing in their bodies. These people will have latent TB infection, where the bacteria will be alive but inactive in their body.

 What kinds of tests can diagnose Tuberculosis?

There are two kinds of laboratory screening tests for Tuberculosis infection, 

  1. The Mantoux Tuberculin Skin test (TST): For this test, a laboratory healthcare provider injects a small amount of a substance known as purified protein derivative (PPD) under the skin of the patient’s forearm. The patient is instructed to again visit the laboratory after two to three days, where their physician will look at the injection site and diagnose whether the patient has active TB or not.
  2. Blood test or Interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA): For this test, the healthcare provider draws blood from the patient and sends them to the lab for further testing purposes to determine if the person has an active infection.

To determine whether a person’s lungs are infected with TB or not, the following tests are performed,

  • Tests on patient’s sputum and lung fluid
  • Chest X-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans

When should I get tested for tuberculosis?

If a person belongs to any of the following categories, due to either their personal or professional life, they may want to get tested for TB.

  • A resident or employee among a large group of people where TB infection risk is relatively high. For example, jails, TB hospitals, healthcare facilities, orphanages, shelters, etc.
  • A physician or a laboratory worker in a mycobacteriology laboratory
  • Have been in contact with a suspected or known TB-infected person
  • Have a weak immune system
  • Current or past resident of a TB prevalent region like Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Russia
  • Children with immature or impaired immune systems
  • Have illnesses like kidney disease, diabetes, chronic infections
  • Have received organ transplants
  • Undergoing treatment for cancer via chemotherapy
  • Undergoing treatment for immune system disorders

How can Tuberculosis be treated?

A physician might prescribe the following drugs for Tuberculosis treatment. However, if a person shows any Tuberculosis symptoms, they should immediately visit their nearest hospital and get themselves diagnosed by professional personnel.

  • Isoniazid (Hyzyd®)
  • Rifapentine (Priftin®)
  • Pyrazinamide (Zinamide®)
  • Rifampin (Rifadin®)
  • Ethambutol (Myambutol®)

TB patients should dedicatedly take their medications for the entire treatment period prescribed by their physician to completely eradicate all infectious TB bacteria. If not, there is a possibility that some TB bacteria will survive in their body, causing future TB infections.

Is there any risk to TB infection treatment?

Although there aren’t any major complications to TB treatment, some people might develop the following side effects from the treatment drugs like

  • Skin rashes
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine
  • Nausea
  • Stomach upset
  • Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)

Is there anything to prevent the spreading of Tuberculosis?

Although, a person has to be in close contact with an active TB patient for a long time to become infected. However, the following guidelines should be followed to prevent the spreading of TB bacteria. Like,

  • Washing hands often and thoroughly with soap
  • Coughing into an elbow or covering the mouth when coughing
  • Avoiding close contact with family and other people
  • Taking medications regularly
  • Refraining from going to work or school until declared fit by their physician

Is there any vaccination for TB?

Infants are often vaccinated with the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine to prevent future TB infection.


TB, if treated early, can be cured. However, if not, TB can be fatal. If someone develops any signs of TB, they should immediately contact their physician and get themselves checked right away. For more accurate and authentic Tuberculosis tests, you can contact your nearest SRL Diagnostics.

SRL Diagnostics has been providing superior quality diagnostics services over a long period and has a very efficient network of accredited labs (44 NABL and CAP-accredited). It also has a huge number of collection points and offers high-quality, accurate test results at affordable prices via highly specialized technologies.

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