Questions and Answers About TB,
Glossary of Terms Related to TB
Active TB disease – an illness
in which TB bacteria are multiplying and attacking different parts
of the body. The symptoms of active TB disease include weakness,
weight loss, fever, no appetite, chills, and sweating at night.
Other symptoms of active TB disease depend on where in the body
the bacteria are growing. If active TB disease is in the lungs (pulmonary
TB), the symptoms may include a bad cough, pain in the chest, and
coughing up blood. A person with active TB disease may be infectious
and spread TB to others.
BCG – a vaccine for TB named after
the French scientists who developed it, Calmette and Guérin. BCG
is not widely used in the United States, but it is often given to
infants and small children in other countries where TB is common.
Chest x-ray – a picture of the
inside of your chest. A chest x-ray is made by exposing a film to
x-rays that pass through your chest. A doctor can look at this film
to see whether TB bacteria have damaged your lungs.
Contact – a person who has
spent time with a person with infectious TB.
Culture – a test to see whether
there are TB bacteria in your phlegm or other body fluids. This
test can take 2 to 4 weeks in most laboratories.
Directly observed therapy (DOT)
– a way of helping patients take their medicine for TB. If
you get DOT, you will meet with a health care worker every day or
several times a week. You will meet at a place you both agree on.
This can be the TB clinic, your home or work, or any other convenient
location. You will take your medicine while the health care worker
Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB)
- XDR TB is a rare type of TB disease that is resistant to nearly
all medicines used to treat TB.
Extrapulmonary TB – active TB
disease in any part of the body other than the lungs (for example,
the kidney, spine, brain, or lymph nodes).
HIV infection – infection with
the human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS (acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome). A person with both latent TB infection
and HIV infection is at very high risk for active TB disease.
INH or isoniazid – a medicine used
to prevent active TB disease in people who have latent TB infection.
INH is also one of the four medicines often used to treat active
Latent TB infection – a condition
in which TB bacteria are alive but inactive in the body. People
with latent TB infection have no symptoms, don't feel sick, can't
spread TB to others, and usually have a positive skin test reaction.
But they may develop active TB disease if they do not receive treatment
for latent TB infection.
Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB) –active
TB disease caused by bacteria resistant to two or more of the most
important medicines: INH and RIF.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis –
bacteria that cause latent TB infection and active TB disease.
Negative – usually refers
to a test result. If you have a negative TB skin test reaction,
you probably do not have TB infection.
Positive – usually refers
to a test result. If you have a positive TB skin test reaction,
you probably have TB infection.
Pulmonary TB – active TB
disease that occurs in the lungs, usually producing a cough that
lasts 3 weeks or longer. Most active TB disease is pulmonary.
Gold (QFT-G) – a blood test
used to find out if you are infected with TB bacteria. The QFT-G
measures the response to TB proteins when they are mixed with a
small amount of blood.
Resistant bacteria – bacteria
that can no longer be killed by a certain medicine.
Smear – a test to see whether
there are TB bacteria in your phlegm. To do this test, lab workers
smear the phlegm on a glass slide, stain the slide with a special
stain, and look for any TB bacteria on the slide. This test usually
takes 1 day to get the results.
Sputum – phlegm coughed up from
deep inside the lungs. Sputum is examined for TB bacteria using
a smear; part of the sputum can also be used to do a culture.
TB skin test – a test that
is often used to detect latent TB infection. A liquid called tuberculin
is injected under the skin on the lower part of your arm. If you
have a positive reaction to this test, you probably have latent
Tuberculin or PPD –
a liquid that is injected under the skin on the lower part of your
arm during a TB skin test. If you have latent TB infection, you
will probably have a positive reaction to the tuberculin.