Signs and symptoms of TB – World TB Day

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body like the kidneys, spine, and brain. Symptoms of TB can vary depending on whether it’s active or latent TB. Here are some common signs and symptoms:

Signs and Symptoms of Active TB:

1. Persistent Cough: A cough that lasts more than three weeks is one of the most common symptoms of active TB. The cough may produce phlegm or blood.

2. Chest Pain: Pain or discomfort in the chest may occur, especially when coughing or breathing deeply.

3. Coughing up Blood (Hemoptysis): Coughing up blood or bloody sputum is a concerning symptom of active TB.

4. Fatigue: General tiredness and weakness are common, especially as the infection progresses.

5. Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite can occur due to the body’s response to the infection.

6. Fever: Low-grade fever, typically in the afternoon or evening, may persist for weeks.

7. Night Sweats: Profuse sweating, particularly at night, is a common symptom of TB.

8. Chills: Some people with TB may experience episodes of chills and shaking.

9. Loss of Appetite: A decreased desire to eat is a common symptom of active TB.

10. Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath can occur as the infection progresses and the lungs become more affected.

Signs and Symptoms of Latent TB:

Latent TB infection does not cause symptoms in most cases. However, some people may experience:

1. Positive TB Skin Test or Blood Test: A positive result on a tuberculin skin test (TST) or interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) indicates latent TB infection.

2. Abnormal Chest X-ray: While there are usually no symptoms, abnormalities may be detected on a chest X-ray.

3. Cough: Some people with latent TB infection may have a mild cough, but it’s not as persistent or severe as with active TB.

It’s essential to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms suggestive of TB, especially if you have been in contact with someone known to have active TB or if you live in or have traveled to an area with a high prevalence of TB. TB is treatable with antibiotics, but early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent complications and the spread of the disease.

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