Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. TB is a serious disease, but it is curable with proper medical treatment. Here’s an overview of its causes, symptoms, and diagnosis:
- Bacterial Transmission: TB is primarily transmitted through the air when an infected person with active TB in the lungs coughs, sneezes, or talks. Tiny droplets containing the TB bacteria can be inhaled by others, potentially leading to infection.
- Latent TB: In some cases, the immune system can control the TB bacteria, leading to a condition called latent TB infection. In latent TB, the bacteria are present but not actively causing symptoms or spreading to others. However, latent TB can become active in the future if the immune system weakens.
The symptoms of TB can vary depending on whether it is active or latent. Active TB typically presents with the following symptoms:
- Cough: A persistent cough that lasts for more than three weeks is a common symptom.
- Chest Pain: Chest pain or discomfort may occur, especially when coughing or breathing deeply.
- Coughing Up Blood: Coughing up blood or bloody sputum can be a sign of advanced TB.
- Fatigue: Unexplained fatigue and weakness are common.
- Fever: A low-grade fever is often present, especially in the late afternoon or evening.
- Night Sweats: Profuse night sweats, which can soak the bedclothes, are a classic symptom of TB.
Diagnosing TB involves several steps:
- Medical History and Physical Examination: The healthcare provider will review your medical history and perform a physical examination to assess your symptoms.
- Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) or Interferon-Gamma Release Assay (IGRA): These tests can detect a latent TB infection. A small amount of a substance derived from the TB bacteria is injected under the skin, and the reaction is measured after a few days.
- Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray can reveal abnormalities in the lungs, such as lung infiltrates or cavities, which are often associated with active TB.
- Sputum Smear and Culture: To diagnose active TB, a sample of sputum (mucus from the lungs) is collected and examined under a microscope (smear) and cultured to grow the TB bacteria.Tuberculosis Causes Symptoms Diagnosis