What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (commonly shortened to TB ) is an infection caused by the bacterium mycobacterium tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the lungs but can also affect the central nervous system lymphatic system, circulatory system(miliary tuberculosis),genitourinary system, bones and joints.

Tuberculosis is one of the most deadly and common major infectious diseases today infecting one-third of the world population or two billion people. There is a rising number of people in the developed world who contract tuberculosis because they have comprised immune systems,typically as a result of immunosupressive drugs or hiv/aids. These people are at particular risk of tuberculosis infection and active tuberculosis disease.

The neglect of TB control programs, HIV/AIDS, and immigration has caused a resurgence of tuberculosis. TB is a chronic bacterial infection. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, each year, 8 million people worldwide develop active TB and nearly 2 million die.

What are the causes of Tuberculosis?

TB disease was once the leading cause of death in the United States.

Other causes of tuberculosis are as follows-

  • Substance abuse.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Silicosis.
  • Cancer of the head or neck.
  • Leukemia or Hodgkin’s disease.
  • Severe kidney disease.
  • Low body weight.
  • Certain medical treatments (such as corticosteroid treatment or organ transplants).
  • Specialized treatment for rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease.

A person who may have been infected with TB for years and has been perfectly healthy. The time may come when this person suffers a change in health. The cause of this change in health may be another disease like AIDS or diabetes. Or it may be drug or alcohol abuse or a lack of health care because of homelessness.

What are the symptoms of Tuberculosis?

A person with TB infection will have no symptoms. A person with TB disease may have any, all or none of the following symptoms:

A cough that will not go away.

Feeling tired all the time.

Weight loss.

Loss of appetite.


Coughing up blood.

Night sweats.

What is the treatment done for Tuberculosis?

If you have active TB, your doctor may recommend that you take 4 medicines:

  • Isoniazid.
  • Rifampin (one brand name: Rifadin).
  • Ethambutol (brand name: Myambutol).
  • Pyrazinamide.

It’s very important that you take all the medicine given to you. For the medicines to work at curing your tuberculosis, you must not skip a single dose.

Avoid drinking alcohol or taking acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol) while you’re taking the tuberculosis medicine. Tell your doctor about any other medicines you may be taking.

Your doctor may also order several sputum and blood tests to be done while you are being treated for tuberculosis. (Sputum is phlegm coughed up from deep inside the lungs.) These tests can be done by the nurse or at a clinic.