What is tuberculosis (TB)?
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys, and spine.
How is TB spread?
TB is spread through the air when a person with active TB coughs, sneezes, or talks. The bacteria can travel through the air for several hours, so anyone who breathes in the air containing the bacteria can get sick.
What are the symptoms of TB?
The symptoms of TB can vary depending on the part of the body that is affected. However, some common symptoms include:
- Coughing that produces phlegm (mucus) that may be bloody
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
How is TB diagnosed?
TB is diagnosed with a combination of tests, including:
- Sputum test: This test looks for the bacteria in the phlegm produced by coughing.
- Chest X-ray: This test can show changes in the lungs that are caused by TB.
- Mantoux test: This test is used to see if you have been exposed to TB bacteria.
How is TB treated?
TB is treated with a combination of antibiotics. The length of treatment depends on the type of TB and the severity of the infection.
How can I prevent TB?
There are a number of things you can do to prevent TB, including:
- Get vaccinated against TB.
- Avoid close contact with people who have TB.
- Practice good hygiene, such as covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Get tested for TB if you think you may have been exposed.
What are the complications of TB?
If TB is not treated, it can lead to serious complications, such as:
- Spread of the infection to other parts of the body
- Lung damage
- Heart failure
How can I get help with TB?
If you think you may have TB, see your doctor right away. They can diagnose the infection and get you started on treatment. There are also a number of organizations that can help you get the care you need, such as:
- The National Tuberculosis Controllers Association (NTCA): The NTCA is a professional organization that provides resources and support to tuberculosis control programs.
- The American Lung Association (ALA): The ALA is a non-profit organization that provides information and support to people with lung diseases, including TB.
- The World Health Organization (WHO): The WHO is a global health organization that provides information and support on TB prevention and treatment.