Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB)
Tuberculosis is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs that can be spread through the air when a person speaks, coughs or sneezes. Also known as TB, symptoms of tuberculosis include fever, fatigue, chest pain and a severe, chronic cough. There are different types of TB, including active tuberculosis, and meningeal and milary TB, and doctors can screen for each of these types using the tuberculin skin test or the Mantoux test. Treatment of tuberculosis usually involves several types of antibiotics, and in rare cases, surgery.

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    Young children have weaker immune systems than adults do, so a child exposed to tuberculosis (TB) won't be able to fight off the infection as well. A healthy adult's immune system often forces TB bacteria into a dormant state that can last a lifetime without causing any illness, but a young child is more likely to get sick quickly. Rarely, TB bacteria may spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. However, remember that antibiotics can cure the vast majority of TB infections.

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    A , Family Medicine, answered
    Tuberculosis (TB) can affect different parts of the body. TB is caused by a bacterium that typically affects the lungs, but can also affect other areas such as the brain, kidney, or spine. Some people who have been exposed to TB have latent TB, which does not cause them to have symptoms. The bacteria are inactive, but the TB can become active in the future. People with active TB often have a bad cough for more than three weeks and may have chest pain and cough up blood.
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    Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria - specifically, Mycobacterium tuberculosis - that spread through the air when someone with active tuberculosis sneezes, coughs, or talks. If you breathe in these bacteria and become infected, you may carry the bacteria without ever becoming sick; this is known as a latent tuberculosis infection. However, if your immune system can't fight the bacteria, you may develop active tuberculosis within weeks or even years of being exposed. Only people with active TB can spread the disease, and only through the air. Touching and kissing do not spread tuberculosis.

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    Your risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) is considered high if you belong to any of these groups:
    • Immigrants from countries where TB is widespread (most countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America)
    • Low-income populations that have limited medical services
    • Injection drug users
    • Residents of long-term care facilities (such as correctional institutions, mental institutions, and nursing homes)
    • Those who have conditions that increase the risk of TB
    • Alcoholics
    • Infants and children under 4 years of age
    Your risk of developing TB is considered very high if you belong to any of these groups:
    • Those infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) -- This group is 100 times more likely to develop active TB than those who have normal immune systems.
    • Those who have abnormal chest X-rays
    • Recent contacts of people infected with TB (including health workers)
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    Symptoms of tuberculosis (TB)  include a bad cough for multiple weeks, chest pain, coughing up blood, fever, night sweats and weight loss. TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. People who show signs and symptoms of TB can infect other people. TB is treatable with antibiotics.
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    If you are experiencing symptoms of tuberculosis (TB), you should talk to your doctor. Symptoms such as a bad cough, night sweats, chest pain, or feeling short of breath can indicate active tuberculosis disease, which is contagious and can be fatal if not treated. The disease can develop weeks or even years after the initial infection, so even if you don't feel sick, you should get a tuberculosis test if you think you may have been exposed to someone with TB.

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    Tuberculosis (TB) can be prevented by avoiding people who are known to have TB, and if exposure is unavoidable, a protective respiratory device should be worn. TB is spread from an infected person to a non-infected person by air. When a person who is infected with TB coughs, spits or sneezes, that person's sputum contains bacteria that become present in the air, and a non-infected person may breath it in. If someone becomes infected with TB and develops latent TB, there are treatments that the person can undergo.
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    Preventive therapy for tuberculosis (TB) is when someone exposed to TB who develops a latent infection, meaning a non-active infection, is treated to prevent activation and complications of TB. The main medication that is used to treat TB is isoniazid, which is an antibiotic.
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    Tuberculosis, or TB, is diagnosed by the Mantoux tuberculin skin test. A small amount of tuberculin (an extract created from the germ that causes TB)  is injected into the skin, and a reaction to the tuberculin is measured. There are other tests that need to be completed to confirm the skin test. A chest x-ray shows whether the disease is present in the lung. Also, the sputum of a person suspected of carrying TB is collected, and a laboratory then sees if the bacteria will grow from the sample. These three tests confirm the diagnosis of TB.
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    If you have no symptoms but need to be screened routinely for tuberculosis (TB), you will have a tuberculin skin test. The most accurate, and currently the only test recommended in the United States, is the purified protein derivative (PPD) test (Mantoux test). A small amount of protein derived from the TB bacteria is injected under the skin, usually on the forearm. Two to three days later, the injection site is checked for "reactivity" -- swelling plus redness. Redness alone is not a positive test. A positive test indicates exposure to tuberculosis, but not necessarily active infection, since most people naturally control the infection. To determine if there is active infection, a chest X-ray is done. If the chest X-ray indicates possible active infection, further studies are done to try to isolate the tuberculosis infection for confirmation and cultures and to guide antibiotic treatment decisions. A negative X-ray indicates the infection has been naturally controlled, but it can recur. Therefore, antibiotic treatment to try to eradicate any bacteria remaining in the body may be tried, depending on your individual risks for disease and for treatment. All antibiotic treatments require at least six months to complete.

    Once a PPD test is positive, it stays positive for life. Repeated testing in PPD positive persons is not done, since it can lead to intensely uncomfortable skin reactions. Certain high-risk persons may require repeated skin testing or special concentrated tests (Second Strength PPD).

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