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An acute or chronic, contagious, bacterial infection.


Lungs primarily, but may spread to other organs. Childhood tuberculosis is usually confined to the middle of the lungs, but it may spread to the brain causing meningitis.

Signs & Symptons

Early stages:

  • No symptoms (often)
  • Symptoms that resemble those of influenza

Second stages:

  • Evening rise of low grade fever
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Heavy sweating, especially at night.

Later stages:

  • Cough with sputum that becomes progressively bloody, yellow, thick or gray
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath.


Infection by Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. The bacteria are transmitted in the air from one person to another. Cattle are also susceptible, and can transmit TB through non-pasteurized milk.

Risk Increases With

  • Newborns and infants
  • Chronic illness that has lowered resistance
  • Use of cortisone or immunosuppressive drugs. These may reactivate inactive TB
  • Crowded or unsanitary living conditions


  • Vaccination with BCG, a strain of the tuberculosis bacteria. This may prevent infection, or shorten and diminish the severity of the infection
  • Preventive treatment for several months with single drug if a tuberculin skin test is positive.
  • Children who have positive reactions to TB tests, but show no symptoms of disease–especially children under age 5
  • Persons who must take immuno-suppressive or cortisone drugs for a long time
  • Post-gastrectomy patients whose X-rays show evidence of inactive TB
  • Persons with silicosis.

Diagnostic Measures

  • Observation of symptoms
  • Medical history and physical exam by a doctor
  • Tuberculin skin test
  • Laboratory cultures of sputum and urine
  • X-rays of the chest.

Possible Complications

  • Lung abscess
  • Bronchiectasis
  • COPD
  • Spread of infection to other organs (brain, bone, spine and kidneys)
  • Respiratory failure

Probable Outcomes

Usually curable with treatment. Without treatment, it can be fatal.


General Measures

  • Nowadys it is not be necessary to isolate or hospitalize a person with TB. The disease is usually spread before diagnosis. Patients are probably not infectious after 10-15 days of treatment
  • Occasionally you will need to collect a sputum specimen for laboratory analysis to see if TB is still active
  • Regular follow-up x-rays.


Your doctor may prescribe antitubercular drugs. Commonest cause of relapse of Tuberculosis or failure of treatment is stoppage of treatment before the course is complete.


No special diet.


Contact your Doctor

  • You notice symptoms of TB
  • Symptoms persist or worsen, despite treatment
  • New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.