Childhood Diseases Rare Tuberculosis Symptoms

Tuberculosis, commonly referred to as TB, is an infection caused by the bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This disease primarily affects the lungs, though other areas of the body can be compromised as well. TB spreads through the air, much like the cold or flu. Keep reading to learn about tuberculosis symptoms, tuberculosis treatment and how the tuberculosis test diagnoses this disease.

Common Tuberculosis Symptoms

Tuberculosis can be present with no symptoms. This type of tuberculosis is known as latent TB, and is not contagious. Active TB causes illness and can be transmitted to others.

Tuberculosis symptoms usually include:

  • Chills
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing that lasts more than three weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night sweats
  • Pain with breathing or coughing
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Symptoms of tuberculosis will be dependent upon the area of the body that is affected. Other than the lungs, different parts of the body may be affected by TB, such as:

  • Brain
  • Kidneys
  • Spine.

Tuberculosis - Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Diagnosis with the Tuberculosis Test

There are various tests to diagnose TB. A common tuberculosis test is a skin test in which a substance is injected in the inner forearm just below the skin. A health care professional will evaluate the injection site between 48 and 72 hours later to determine the likelihood of TB infection. This method is called the Mantoux test. If there is a hard raised bump at the site of the injection, TB will be suspected and tuberculosis treatment may be called for.

A blood test is a more accurate tuberculosis test. Medical professionals usually turn to this type of test in cases where TB is suspected, but a skin test is negative. Doctors will order further tuberculosis test options if a tuberculosis diagnosis is confirmed. In order to determine the best means of treatment, doctors may require:

  • Chest X-rays
  • CT scans
  • Culture tests.

Tuberculosis Treatment Options

Tuberculosis treatment usually involves some form of medication. Treatment of TB is very different from other infections, as patients may take antibiotics for six to nine months to make sure that the bacteria are eradicated.

Your doctor will determine the best method of tuberculosis treatment based on the following factors:

  • Patient’s age
  • Patient’s health
  • Where the infection is located in the body
  • Whether the TB is latent or active.

Those at risk of TB, such as health care workers and people with weakened immune systems, can take precautions to prevent the disease. Such methods include:

  • Getting regular TB testing
  • Protecting the immune system with healthy lifestyle practices
  • Taking medication if diagnosed with latent tuberculosis to prevent it from becoming active.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Tuberculosis (TB). Retrieved January 31, 2010 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/tb/topic/basics/default.htm.

DiPentima, C. (2007). Infections: Tuberculosis. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from the Kids Health Web site: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/tuberculosis.html#.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Tuberculosis. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://mayoclinic.com/health/tuberculosis/DS00372.