What are the signs and symptoms of TB?

What are the signs and symptoms of TB?

young man coughing with chest painSigns of tuberculosis typically affect a person’s respiratory system (the lungs, in particular), but can also have adverse effects on other organs such as the spine, brain and kidneys too.

Symptoms typically vary depending on the organs infected at the time. If TB is directly affecting kidney function, a sufferer may notice blood in their urine. Back pain is a common complaint in those where tuberculosis is affecting the spine. Treatment will also directly correlate with symptoms experienced.

Common symptoms include:

  • Coughing (usually accompanied by the presence of blood or sputum (mucus and phlegm) and lasting more than 3 weeks)
  • Fever
  • Chest pain (typically occurs with a persistent cough)
  • Pain with breathing
  • Fatigue (unexplained)
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Night sweats and the chills

How does TB affect the body?

Not every case of TB means you will fall ill or even transmit the disease.

Tuberculosis is classified in two different forms:

  • Latent TB: A person may be able to carry the bacteria causing infection for years, but won’t spread the infection. Bacteria germs are inactive and non-contagious, and don’t show up with any signs or symptoms. This does not mean that it is impossible for the infection to become active at a later stage. A small percentage of latent (dormant) infections can switch to an active infection. It is thus still important to seek medical treatment so that a doctor can help to prevent it from becoming contagious with the use of antibiotics.
  • Active TB: An active infection means that bacteria causing germs multiplies in the body causing you to experience symptoms and feel ill. Once contracted symptoms will occur within the initial few weeks of infection.
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