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Tuberculosis (TB)

...a contagious infection that usually attacks your lungs.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious infection that usually attacks your lungs. It can also spread to other parts of your body, like your brain and spine. A type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB germs) causes it.

There are two forms of the disease:
A TB infection doesn’t always mean you’ll get sick.

▪️Latent TB: You have the germs in your body, but your immune system keeps them from spreading. You don’t have any symptoms, and you’re not contagious. But the infection is still alive and can one day become active.

▪️Active TB: The germs multiply and make you sick. You can spread the disease to others. Ninety percent of active cases in adults come from a latent TB infection.

A latent or active TB infection can also be drug resistant, meaning certain medications don’t work against the bacteria.

Signs of active TB disease include:

▪️A cough that lasts more than 3 weeks
▪️Chest pain
▪️Coughing up blood
▪️Feeling tired all the time
▪️Night sweats
▪️Loss of appetite
▪️Weight loss

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that spread through the air, just like a cold or the flu. When someone who has TB coughs, sneezes, talks, laughs, or sings, they release tiny droplets that contain the germs. If you breathe in these germs, you can get it.

You could be more likely to get TB if:
▪️A friend, co-worker, or family member has active TB.
▪️You live in or have traveled to an area where TB is common.
▪️You work or live in a hospital or nursing home.
▪️You’re a health care worker for patients at high risk of TB.
▪️You’re a smoker.

Tuberculosis infection can cause complications such as:

▪️Joint damage
▪️Lung damage
▪️Infection or damage of your bones, spinal cord, brain, or lymph nodes
▪️Liver or kidney problems
▪️Inflammation of the tissues around your heart

Your treatment will depend on your infection.
▫️If you have latent TB, your doctor will give you medication to kill the bacteria so the infection doesn’t become active.
▫️A combination of medicines also treats active TB. You’ll take them for 6 to 12 months.
▫️If you have drug-resistant TB, your doctor might give you one or more different medicines.

To help stop the spread of TB:

✅If you have a latent infection, take all of your medication so it doesn’t become active and contagious.

✅If you have active TB, limit your contact with other people. Cover your mouth when you laugh, sneeze, or cough. Wear a surgical mask when you’re around other people during the first weeks of treatment.

✅If you’re traveling to a place where TB is common, avoid spending a lot of time in crowded places with sick people.

Consult your health care provider, if you notice any signs of Tuberculosis, for proper diagnosis and adequate treatment.

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