TB Can Be Treated
||TB Can be Treated
What is TB?
"TB" is short for a disease called tuberculosis. TB is spread
through the air from one person to another. The TB germs are passed
through the air when someone who is sick with TB disease of the
lungs or throat coughs, speaks, laughs, sings, or sneezes. The
people near the sick person can breathe TB germs into their lungs.
TB germs can live in your body without making you sick. This is
called latent TB infection. This means you have only inactive
(sleeping) TB germs in your body. The inactive germs cannot be
passed on to anyone else. However, if these germs wake up or become
active in your body and multiply, you will get sick with TB disease.
When TB germs are active (multiplying in your body), this is called
TB disease. These germs usually attack the lungs. They can also
attack other parts of the body, such as the kidneys, brain, or
spine. TB disease will make you sick. People with TB disease may
spread the germs to people they spend time with every day.
If the TB disease is in your lungs, you may:
• cough a lot,
• cough up mucus or phlegm ("flem"),
• cough up blood, or
• have chest pain when you cough.
You should always cover your mouth when you cough!
If you have TB disease, you may also:
• feel weak,
• lose your appetite,
• lose weight,
• have a fever, or
• sweat a lot at night.
These are symptoms of TB disease. These symptoms may last for several
weeks. Without treatment, they usually get worse.
If you get TB disease in another part of the body, the symptoms will
be different. Only a doctor can tell you if you have TB disease.
How do I know if I have latent TB infection or TB disease?
If you have been around someone who has TB disease, you should go to
your doctor or your local health department for tests.
There are two tests that can be used to help detect latent TB
infection: a skin test or a special TB blood test. The skin
test is used most often. A small needle is used to put some
testing material, called tuberculin, under the skin. In 2-3
days, you return to the health care worker who will check
to see if there is a reaction to the test. In some cases, a
special TB blood test is given to test for TB infection. This
blood test measures how a person’s immune system reacts
to the germs that cause TB.
Other tests are needed to show if you have TB disease. An x-ray of
your chest can
tell if there is damage to your lungs from TB. TB disease may be
deep inside your
lungs. Phlegm ("flem") you cough up will be tested in a laboratory
to see if the TB
germs are in your lungs.
If TB disease is in your lungs or throat, you can give TB germs to
your family and friends. They can get sick with TB disease. You may
have to be separated from other people until you can’t spread TB
germs. This probably won’t be for very long, if you take your
medicine as your health care provider instructs.
Can TB be treated?
If you have TB infection, you may need medicine to prevent getting
TB disease later. This is called “preventive” treatment.
TB disease can also be treated by taking medicine. It is very
important that people who have TB disease finish the medicine, and
take the drugs exactly as they are told. If they stop taking the
drugs too soon, they can become sick again. If they do not take the
drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become difficult
to treat with those drugs.
It is very important that you take your medicine as your doctor
recommends. It takes at least six months to one year to kill all the
Protect your family and friends from TB — take all your TB drugs!