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What is Tuberculosis?

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis, also known as TB is a bacterial infection that infects the lungs and can spread through the lymph nodes and bloodstream to other organs in the body, such as Kidney, Lymph nodes, Brain, Spine, and Joints. Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium, TB is contagious and the infecting always spread through the air when a person with affected by Tuberculosis sneezes, coughs, spits, talk or laugh.

Killing over 1.3 million people out of 8.6 million people that were infected with TB in 2012, Tuberculosis is a very old infectious diseases with thousands of years of history plaguing humankind, it is dimmed the second greatest killer with its single infectious agent worldwide. The condition can be deadly if not treated on time.

Tuberculosis can affect anybody, all age and all parts of the world. However, the infection is generally common in young adults, and people living in developing countries always have the highest recorded cases of tuberculosis.

Types of tuberculosis

Tuberculosis can be symptomatic or inactive, depending on the type of tuberculosis infection. There are basically two types of tuberculosis infection and the way they affect the body is different. The types of tuberculosis include:

Latent Tuberculosis

In this type of tuberculosis infection, the person infected with the disease has the TB bacteria and tested positive for the illness, but they don’t experience any symptoms related to the disease. This is because the bacteria that cause Tuberculosis remain in the body but forced to an inactive state by some factors like the body immune system. Latent Tuberculosis is also known as inactive TB, although this type of TB causes no symptom and is no contagious but treatment is very important to control the spread and as latent tuberculosis can turn into active at any point in time. In any way, chances of latent tuberculosis turning active is small but the possibility is there, any infection that weakens the body immune system can cause latent TB to be active, such as HIV infection.

Active Tuberculosis

This TB infection is also known as symptomatic Tuberculosis, people with active TB infection do experience symptoms that make them sick and are contagious. Treatment is necessary as soon as possible as to prevent complication and spreading the disease to other people.

Symptoms of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis infection might come with no symptom if the bacteria are inactive. But in the case of active tuberculosis infection, affected person may experience some of the following sign and symptoms.

  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain while breathing or coughing
  • Coughing that lasts three or more weeks
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Chills

Tuberculosis can also affect other organs in the body, the sign and symptoms will vary according to the organ affected, when the infection spread outside the lungs. For example, affected people may start experiencing back pain when the spread reach the spine and blood in the urine when the bacteria spread to the kidney.

Causes of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria infection that is spread from person to person. The infection can spread from one person to another through contagious person coughs, sneezes, laughs, speaks or sings which create microscopic droplets of the bacteria into the air.


Tuberculosis is mainly treated with antibiotics, but it should be taken under doctor’s prescription and supervision.

The treatment length and type of medication depends on the person’s health, age, potential resistance to drugs, the type of infection (latent or active) and the affected organ such as the lungs, brain, and kidneys. Treatment length can be as long as 6 months or more.

All tuberculosis treatments and medication are toxic to the liver and in some cases, the patient may experience side effect from this drug, such as Dark urine, Jaundice, Loss of appetite and fever.

Basically, Tuberculosis infection can be cured when treated with the right medication and administered correctly. But can be fatal if left untreated.

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