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Tuberculosis (TB) is a chronic bacterial infection that usually infects the lungs, although other organs are sometimes involved. TB is primarily an airborne disease.
There is a difference between being infected with the TB bacterium and having active tuberculosis disease.
There are three important ways to describe the stages of TB. They are as follows:
The predominant TB bacterium is Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis). Several people infected with M. tuberculosis never develop active TB. However, in people with weakened immune systems, especially those with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), TB organisms can overcome the body's defenses, multiply, and cause an active disease.
TB affects all ages, races, income levels, and both genders. Those at higher risk include the following:
The following are the most common symptoms for TB. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.
The symptoms of TB may resemble other lung conditions or medical problems. Consult a physician for a diagnosis.
The TB bacterium is spread through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, sings, or laughs; however, repeated exposure to the germs is usually necessary before a person will become infected. It is not likely to be transmitted through personal items, such as clothing, bedding, a drinking glass, eating utensils, a handshake, a toilet, or other items that a person with TB has touched. Adequate ventilation is the most important measure to prevent the transmission of TB.
TB is diagnosed with a TB skin test. In this test, a small amount of testing material is injected into the top layer of the skin. If a certain size bump develops within two or three days, the test may be positive for tuberculosis infection. Additional tests to determine if a person has TB disease include x-rays and sputum tests.
TB skin tests are suggested for those:
Recommendations for skin testing in children, from the American Academy of Pediatrics are as follows:
Yearly skin testing:
Testing every two to three years:
Consider testing in children from ages 4 to 6 and 11 to 16 if:
Specific treatment will be determined by your physician based on:
Treatment may include: