Patients with tuberculosis have a potentially serious infectious disease, which largely affects their lungs and is called "pulmonary tuberculosis". Pulmonary tuberculosis is contagious and can spread from one person to another through droplets from coughs and sneezes.
What are the signs and symptoms of tuberculosis?
There are two sorts of tuberculosis: latent tuberculosis and active tuberculosis. Latent tuberculosis is normally inactive and not contagious. However, it can turn into active tuberculosis, and it needs to be treated. Meanwhile, active tuberculosis makes the patients sick, and the patients can spread the disease to others. As for active
- Have coughs that last three or more weeks
- Have coughs with blood
- Have chest pain
- Have pain while breathing or coughing
- Have unintended weight loss
- Have fatigue
- Have fever
- Have sweats at night
- Experience chills or have a feeling of being cold
- Lose appetite
Tuberculosis, in general, can affect other parts of the body, such as kidneys, spine or brain. Once tuberculosis occurs in other parts of the body, signs and symptoms can vary. For instance, patients can experience back pain when tuberculosis occurs in the spine. Patients may have blood in their urine when tuberculosis occurs in the kidneys.
When to see a doctor
Patients who have a fever, unexplained weight loss, sweats at night or a persistent cough are advised to meet doctors. Doctors may perform some tests to help determine the cause.
What are the causes of pulmonary tuberculosis?
Generally, pulmonary tuberculosis is caused by bacteria through droplets that are released into the air. Tuberculosis is a contagious disease, but it is not easy to catch. This means that patients are more likely to catch tuberculosis from people they live with or work with, and not strangers. However, it is easy for patients with HIV to develop tuberculosis due to their weak immune system. Also, some tuberculosis bacteria have developed resistance to most treatments, such as isoniazid and rifampin.
What are the risk factors that develop pulmonary tuberculosis?
Risk factors that develop pulmonary tuberculosis can vary, such as:
- Have weakened immune system due to having some diseases or receiving treatments, such as having AIDS or receiving chemotherapy for cancer treatments
- Travel or live in certain areas where the risk of contracting tuberculosis is high
- Use some substance, such as tobacco, IV drugs, or excessive alcohol.
- Lack of medical care
- Have conditions that increase risks of getting tuberculosis, such as living or working in a residential care facility, living in or emigrating from a country where tuberculosis is common, or living with someone infected with tuberculosis
How do doctors diagnose pulmonary tuberculosis?
Doctors normally start with the physical exam by checking the patients’ lymph nodes or using a stethoscope to listen to the sounds in the lungs while breathing. Other tests can be opted for by doctors, such as a simple skin test, blood tests, imaging tests, and sputum tests.
How do doctors treat pulmonary tuberculosis?
Doctors usually opt for medications to treat pulmonary tuberculosis, which also takes a longer time to treat other types of bacterial infections. Treatments for pulmonary tuberculosis can vary as follows:Most common TB drugs
Patients with latent tuberculosis may be treated with medications as follows:
Preparation to meet doctors
Before meeting doctors, patients with pulmonary tuberculosis are advised to do as follow:
Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing
- Write down key personal information, such as recent life changes or international travel
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that the patients have had or are having
- Write down questions to ask that the patients may have for their doctors
What to expect from doctors
During the patient interview, doctors may ask some questions regarding:
- Symptoms and when they started
- Whether the patients have HIV or AIDS
- Whether the patients have lived in another country or travelled to another country
- Whether the patients have lived or live with someone with tuberculosis