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How to Check Early Symptoms of Tuberculosis?




Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium named Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Treating the condition is necessary at its initial stage. Not doing so can lead to several complications in the future. The organ that it affects the most is the lungs. However, a TB infection can also spread to other organs such as the brain, the spine, and the kidneys.


The disease gets its name from a Latin word that means “a nodule”. The nature of tuberculosis can be either active or latent. When you have latent TB, you may neither become sick nor display the symptoms. On the other hand, being infected with active tuberculosis will make you sick. Plus, you will also display symptoms. Once you get infected with active tuberculosis, you will continue to remain contagious. In this state, you can infect others until you undergo complete treatment.


Different forms of tuberculosis

Tuberculosis has different forms. It has the following three stages:

  • Primary infection
  • Active tuberculosis disease
  • Latent tuberculosis infection


Apart from active and inactive TB, tuberculosis also exists in other forms. These types of TB result from the action of the bacterium on different parts of the body. Extrapulmonary tuberculosis exemplifies a form of TB that impacts other body parts. In conjunction with miliary tuberculosis, it causes meningitis, sterile pyuria, Pott’s disease, Addison’s disease, Hepatitis, and Lymphadenitis.


Signs and symptoms of tuberculosis

The signs and symptoms of tuberculosis depend on its form. If you have latent tuberculosis, even if you test positive, you will not display the usual symptoms of the disease. However, you will show the following tuberculosis symptoms if you have an active case:

  • Chest pain
  • Bad cough
  • Coughing up mucus or blood
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Loss of hunger
  • An unusual weight loss
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Night sweats


Causes of tuberculosis

A bacterium named Mycobacterium tuberculosis is responsible for causing TB in individuals. Being airborne, it enters into the body of a healthy individual through the air. Thereafter, it targets the lungs and starts damaging them. Additionally, it may also affect other parts of the body. 


Interestingly, though, a TB infection is hard to contract. Usually, it takes a long time and prolonged exposure to an infected person for an individual to get it. You will get it only if you spend a long time with someone who has the disease. 


The germs for the disease spread from an infected person with an active case when they laugh, sing, talk, sneeze, or cough. The body’s natural defenses can fight the bacterium and prevent its growth. But individuals with compromised immunity or immune system may need medical treatment. For such individuals, it is imperative to undergo treatment when they start displaying the early symptoms of tuberculosis.


Diagnosis of tuberculosis

There are two primary methods to diagnose TB disease. These include the following:

  • Mantoux TST (tuberculin skin test): Your healthcare provider will decide on the spot for injecting a purified protein derivative under your forearm skin. They will also ask you to visit them after 2-3 days for a detailed inspection.
  • IGRA (Interferon-gamma release assay): In this process, your healthcare provider will collect your blood sample and send it to the laboratory for testing.


Along with the above tests, your healthcare provider may also recommend additional tests:

  • Lab tests for gaining a detailed insight into your lung fluid and sputum
  • CT (computed tomography) scans
  • Chest X-ray


How to know if you need to undergo a test for TB

A test for TB is recommended for individuals when they start displaying early symptoms of tuberculosis. The quicker you do it the better. Consider undergoing a test for TB if:

  • You work or remain in a TB-sensitive zone for a long time 
  • You frequently visit healthcare facilities, shelters, skilled nursing facilities, hospices, and jails
  • Your profession involves working at a mycobacteriology laboratory
  • You have prolonged exposure to a patient with tuberculosis
  • You have a compromised or weaker immune system
  • You use recreational drugs
  • You have a chronic illness, diabetes, or kidney disease
  • You have undergone an organ transplant or chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer. 
  • You start displaying some of the symptoms of TB


If you feel you may have tuberculosis, consider undergoing a test at the earliest. The treatment of the disease can only begin after its proper diagnosis. It will help with a timely treatment of TB disease to open up the path to recovery for you.


The treatment for tuberculosis

Some medicinal drugs can help treat TB infection. These include the following:

  • Priftin (Rifapentine)
  • Zinamide (Pyrazinamide)
  • Myambutol (Ehtambutol)
  • Rifadin (Rifampin)
  • Hyzyd (Isoniazid)


Your healthcare provider will prescribe these medications, depending on the test results. They will also consider the current state of your health and other factors while prescribing these medications. If required, you may also need to take some of these medications for several months (for 9 months or so).


While prescribing these drugs, your healthcare provider will do their best to ensure the drugs do not cause any side effects. The different side effects or complications due to medications include the following:

  • Dark urine
  • Itchiness on the skin
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Rashes on the skin


An important thing to keep in mind is that TB disease is curable. However, the course of treatment will depend on how well your body responds to an ongoing treatment. The average duration for the treatment of the disease is six to eight months.



Tuberculosis, which results from a bacterium, affects the lungs as well as other parts of the body. While natural immunity makes individuals immune to the bacterium and prevents its growth, some individuals may need medical intervention. You can stay protected from TB by following basic hygiene practices like washing your hands properly before eating, wearing a face mask, avoiding intimate contact with other people, and so on.

Medanta Medical Team
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