The bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes T.B., a contagious, airborne infection that destroys body tissue. Pulmonary tuberculosis (T.B.) is when M. tuberculosis primarily attacks the lungs. However, it can spread from there to other organs. Pulmonary T.B. is curable with an early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment.
There are some common symptoms of T.B.
- cough almost continuously
- cough up blood
- have a consistent fever, including low-grade fevers
- have night sweats
- have chest pains
- have unexplained weight loss
There may be other symptoms of T.B. Doctor will be able to give an accurate diagnosis after reviewing all your symptoms.
T.B. is airborne, which means you can get T.B. after breathing air exhaled by someone with tuberculosis. This can be air from:
The germs can stay in the air for several hours. It’s possible to inhale them even when the infected person isn’t in the room. But usually you have to be close to someone with TB for a long period of time to catch it.
Risk factors for TB
People also at risk for developing pulmonary TB disease are:
- ulder adults
- small children
- people with an autoimmune disorder, such as Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- people with lifelong conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease
- people who use drug injections
- people who are immunocompromised, such as those taking chemotherapy, chronic steroids, or who have HIV or AIDS
How is T.B. diagnosed?
During your examination, your doctor will:
- conduct a physical exam to check for fluid in your lungs
- ask about your medical history
- schedule a chest X-ray
- order a medical test to confirm T.B.
The two medical tests for T.B. are a skin test and a blood test. These tests won’t tell you if you’ve developed T.B., only if you have the germ.
The skin test is the most common and it’s less expensive, but it requires two visits to your doctor. Your doctor will ask for a blood test if you’re unable to return for a second visit.
For the skin test, doctor or nurse will inject a very small amount of the protein from T.B. under your skin. It’s important not to scratch the area, even if it itches. Scratching could make the test results harder to read. Doctor will ask you to come back in two or three days to see if the injection spot is swullen. Redness at the location of the injection is normal and is not a sign of a TB infection.
Doctor will take a sample of your blood, and then expose blood to TB in a laboratory. This test measures how your immune system responds to bacteria that causes the disease. Blood test results are usually available within 24 hours.
These exams can also look for T.B., which can be hard to diagnose in children, people who have HIV, and people who have multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).
- Imaging test - A CT scan to check lungs for signs of an infection
- Bronchoscopy - Doctor inserts a scope through your mouth or nose to see your lungs and airways
- Sputum examination - A lab examines a sample of your mucus
- Thoracentesis - A procedure that removes fluid from the space between the outside of your lungs and the wall of your chest
- Lung biopsy - A procedure to remove a sample of lung tissue