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Tuberculosis - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is a disease that dates as back as the Ancient Egyptian civilization of the Pharaohs. For its presence has been found in the preserved spines of the ancient Egyptian mummies.During the 18th and 19th century, an epidemic of this fearsome disease rampaged throughout North America and Europe, before Robert Koch the German microbiologist discovered the cause of tuberculosis in 1882.Following Robert Koch’s discovery, vaccine and effective drug treatment that was developed, led to the belief that this illness has been almost defeated. At a point of time, even the United Nations, suggested that TB (Tuberculosis) would get eliminated by 2025.

Nevertheless, the counts of the patients suffering from this disease started to rise in the US and worldwide in the mid-80s. In 1993 the WHO (World Health Organization) declared Tuberculosis as a global emergency.Although with proper diet and medications this disease is curable, but without proper treatment experts say that two third of the people suffering from TB will die.

There are two types of Tuberculosis:

  • Latent TB
  • Active TB

In the latent TB cases, the TB bacteria remain in a dormant mode in the body. It doesn’t cause any symptoms of the disease and so is not contagious. However, the latent TB bacteria can become active any point of time. About one third of the world population is believed to have latent TB. Although there is only 10% chance that latent TB will get active, but people who have compromised immune system, have higher risks of triggering this latent disease. In active TB, the disease causing bacteria shows symptoms of TB and this illness is contagious.

Causes and Symptoms :

TB is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. This disease spreads through the air, when someone suffering from this disease sneezes, coughs, laughs, talks or spit. Although TB is contagious, but it is not easy to catch. However, the chances of getting infected with this disease is more from someone you work or live, rather than from a stranger. With people suffering from active TB, it take not more than two weeks to be non-contagious, if they are provided proper medications.

In most of the cases the common diagnostic test for detecting this disease is a skin test whereby a small injection of PPD tuberculin (which is an extract of the TB bacterium) is given below the inside forearm of the patient. The injection site is then checked after 2-3 days. If the site of the injection shows signs of red bump, gets swollen and hard, then it’s likely that the patient is suffering from TB. Apart from that, other tests which are also used for diagnosis of this disease are blood tests, x-ray of the patient’s chest, which are done along with the above mentioned skin test.

Treatable by medical professional Require medical diagnosis Lab test always required Short-term: resolves within days to weeks Spread through the air or contaminated surfaces
Feeling chilly and having fever. Coughing, which sometimes spurts out mucous and blood. Loss of appetite leading to weight loss. Night sweats and loss of energy during the morning hours of the day.

Popular Health Tips

How A Right Diet Helps Recover From Pulmonary Tuberculosis?

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
How A Right Diet Helps Recover From Pulmonary Tuberculosis?

Pulmonary tuberculosis was a fatal disease in the past in India. On an average, 95% of the deaths occur in third world countries, especially the developing ones, due to tuberculosis. In India, the deaths account to 50% out of the 95%. Such is the scenario that everyone is apprehensive if they have a prolonged cough and cold. As sputum with blood is a clear sign that the person is suffering from tuberculosis, steps must be taken promptly and at a swift pace to streamline things for quick care.

Tuberculosis is an air-borne disease and it can easily travel through the air when the affected person is in contact. In tuberculosis, specific bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis affects the lungs. On an average, 10% of such infections progress into acute disease and kill the affected individuals.

The symptoms of tuberculosis are seen more in patients suffering from AIDS as their immunity is often compromised. Early detection can be made possible through a chest X-Ray, microscopic examination, and the nature of the fluids. In case you are suffering from a prolonged cough and cold, you must go for tuberculin skin test or blood test to find out more about the problem.

Why is it important to eat a proper diet during pulmonary tuberculosis?
Malnutrition and pulmonary tuberculosis are interrelated. If you are eating right and inducting all healthy means in your daily lifestyle, it will build your immunity and help fight against grave diseases. When you have pulmonary tuberculosis, the desire or craving for the food will disappear and eventually, your body will wither off. You will lose mass by losing muscles.

So, eating healthily can only help you stay strong to defeat pulmonary tuberculosis. Those who are suffering from tuberculosis face challenges with nutrients in their body. They are deprived of essential micro-nutrients and they have severe deficiencies of zinc, Vitamin A, D, C & E, selenium, iron and copper.

A protein- and vitamin-rich diet can boost the immunity of the body and prevent deadly diseases from wreaking havoc in the body. So, if you are wondering about food, here are a few items that you can eat and few that you can avoid when you have pulmonary tuberculosis.

Food to eat

  • Kale and spinach are instant sources of high iron and Vitamin B, which will help you power-up your immune system.
  • Whole grains like wheat, bread and cereals are a must-have during this time-tested period.
  • Carrots, peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, and cherries are rich anti-oxidants and they can boost your immune system by flushing out the oxidants from the body, which are tantamount to poison.
  • Vegetable oil (not butter) could be a “green go” during pulmonary tuberculosis.

Food to avoid

  1. Greasy food like beef, chicken, and mutton must be avoided. They can increase the cholesterol level in the body and compromise on the power of immunity.
  2. Avoid margarine and butter. One should not eat cake, pastries, and other food with hydrogenated oil.
  3. Keep an eye on your regular diet, work to build a strong immunity, and always stay healthy.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3179 people found this helpful

When To Consult A Lung Specialist For Your Child?

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
When To Consult A Lung Specialist For Your Child?

Lung specialists are able to provide a thorough evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of a number of breathing disorders in children. In addition to asthma, they can help in the management and treatment of conditions such as cystic fibrosis, upper airway obstruction recurrent pneumonia, chronic or a recurrent cough, wheezing and sleep disorders. These specialists even known as paediatric pulmonologists can also be consulted in cases breathing and lung diseases in children from birth till the age of 21 years.

When to see a specialist?
You should consider visiting a lung specialist if you observe any of the following signs in your child:

  • If your child had to be hospitalised for an asthma attack more than once
  • If the condition cannot be properly controlled or managed even after following the advice of the doctor.
  • If your child has had more than two courses of oral steroids for asthma in the past year.
  • If your child has been diagnosed with asthma and you want a second opinion.


  • If your child has a chronic cough, which lasts for more than four weeks, or a congestion that does not seem to respond to any form of medication.
  • If your child coughs for more than two nights a month or more than two days a week.
  • If your child starts coughing when exercising or running or performing any other strenuous activity.


  1. If you observe any changes in breathing or if your child seems to stop or pause while breathing when asleep or awake.
  2. If you notice frequent bouts of fast or laboured breathing.
  3. If your child is susceptible to viral or bacterial respiratory infections.
  4. If your child snores or has a disturbed sleep at night.
  5. If your child has raspy or rattling breathing.


  • If your child has been diagnosed with pneumonia more than once.
  • Children or young adults with breathing problems or asthma combined with conditions such as deformity of the chest wall or pectus excavatum and Sickle cell disease will require a consultation with a paediatric lung specialist.

A paediatric lung specialist has the qualifications, training, and experience required to best treat your child. They would require the parent or guardian of the child to fill in a comprehensive questionnaire so as to correctly diagnose, treat and manage the condition. These questions would also form the basis of the medical history of the child.

In order to disease, the specialists may perform tests such as pulmonary function testing and flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy or FFB in a way that is best suited for your child. They will be able to interact and effectively answer any questions that the child would have.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!


4589 people found this helpful

Tuberculosis (TB) - When A Person Can Develop It?

Pulmonologist, Delhi
Tuberculosis (TB) - When A Person Can Develop It?

Tuberculosis or TB as it is commonly known in medical circles is a bacterial infection commonly affecting the lungs. While there are some countries in the world, where TB is more common, anybody can develop TB if they are not very healthy. The TB bacteria spreads through the air. While some people's immune system would be able to fight the disease back; some people who have risk factors, the disease may continue to develop and present with symptoms.

So, a person can develop TB in two circumstances:

  1. Exposure to TB
    • Visited a country where TB is very common
    • Spent time with a person who is infected with TB
    • Exposure to crowded places like a market or a healthcare facility where TB virus is present
  2. Weakened immune system
    • Be HIV infected
    • Weak immune system due to long-term use of steroids
    • Chronic diseases like diabetes, malnutrition, end-stage kidney or liver disease, cancer, etc.
    • Extremes of age (children whose immune system is not fully developed, elderly whose immunity is weakened)
    • Chronic smoker, IV drug abuse, and/or alcohol user
    • Repeatedly exposed to TB bacteria in the last two years
    • Had TB bacteria, but not identified or treated
    • Drug therapy like chemotherapy, long-term use of steroids, auto-immune disease treatments, etc.

Signs and symptoms of TB:

If you are at risk, it is also suggested that you know the early warning signs and symptoms of TB. TB most commonly affects the lungs and is known as pulmonary tuberculosis. Watching out for these helps in early diagnosis which can both help arrest the condition in the early stages and improve prognosis.

  1. A persistent cough which lasts for more than 3 weeks
  2. Pain in the chest worsened with coughing
  3. Presence of blood in the sputum
  4. Generalized and extreme weakness or fatigue
  5. Unexplained weight loss
  6. Loss of appetite
  7. Fever and chills
  8. Profuse sweating at night

If a person has TB bacteria in the system but does not feel sick and does not have the above systems, then it means that the person is not actively infected. This person also cannot spread the disease to another person. However, when immunity is weak, this can develop into an infection. In a country like India where tuberculosis is quite prevalent, it is best to get yourself screened for active tuberculosis infection if you display any such symptoms.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2696 people found this helpful

Tuberculosis - How It Is Affecting The Urban Population?

MBBS, MD - Pulmonary Medicine
Pulmonologist, Noida
Tuberculosis - How It Is Affecting The Urban Population?

Tuberculosis is one of the most serious infectious diseases and can easily spread from one person to another when the virus enters the air through a sneeze or a cough. The disease is partly preventable by vaccines. It was once upon a time quite rare, but today has become quite common in urban areas. The emergence of HIV is one of the main reasons for this. HIV is an immune system disorder that weakens the body’s ability to fight back against infections. With time, the virus causing the disease has evolved and become resistant to many drugs used to treat it.

Tuberculosis is also more commonly seen in slum areas of the cities. This is because of a lack of ventilation and living in close proximity that makes it easy for the disease to spread from one person to another. Limited access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation also reduces immunity and increases the risk of tuberculosis.

To control the spread of tuberculosis, it is important to treat it and keep away from other people while being treated. People also need to be made aware of the disease and its symptoms. It is important for the general public to understand that tuberculosis can be treated. They should also be informed that treatment of tuberculosis is free. As with most chronic diseases, the earlier treatment is started, the easier it is.

Thus, if you notice any of the early symptoms of tuberculosis such as

Then, you must consult a doctor immediately.

Tuberculosis can be diagnosed through a simple skin test or blood test. In terms of the skin test, the results can take up to 72 hours. It is important to note that this test is not foolproof as it can give a false positive or false negative result. For this reason, this may be followed by a blood test. Treatment for tuberculosis takes the form of oral antibiotics. The disease is no longer contagious after the medication is taken for a few weeks.

However, taking the full course of medication is essential to stopping medication early can make the bacteria resistant to the drug. Tuberculosis caused by drug-resistant bacteria is much harder to treat.
Thus, to reduce the number of cases of tuberculosis in urban areas, people must be made aware of the disease and its treatment. Proper sanitation and ventilation in their living areas should also be provided.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2792 people found this helpful

Signs Of Most Common Respiratory Disorders!

MBBS, MD - TB & Chest, Fellowship Training Intensive Care, Fellow College of Chest physicians, European Diploma in Respiratory Medicine, Interventional Pulmonology , Greece, European Diploma in Intensive Care Medicine, Fellow Indian college of critical care
Pulmonologist, Gurgaon
Signs Of Most Common Respiratory Disorders!

The respiratory system, through which air enters the body, is prone to disorders, and most of them are infections. Micro-organisms thrive in the air around us, and can gain easy access to the system through the air that we inhale. Therefore, respiratory issues are very common, but also not always a cause for concern. Most respiratory disorders would have common symptoms including coughing, chest pain, sputum production with varying features, shortness of breath, wheezing, etc.

Read on to know the symptoms of common respiratory disorders, so you are equipped to handle them.

  1. Asthma: Asthma is one of the most common respiratory issues. The trigger could be extreme cold, excessive pollen in the air, stress, etc.
  2. Common cold: This is a common disorder of the upper respiratory tract. This could be due to allergy or infection. There is difficulty breathing, labored breathing, runny nose, and extreme lethargy. The throat is also sore and there is a scratchy, itchy feeling at the back of the throat.
  3. Bronchitis: The bronchi are the further branches through which air flows, and these when inflamed cause bronchitis. Often caused as an infection, this produces a cough that can throw up a lot of sputum.
  4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: This often occurs with ageing and also due to smoking. This produces chronic coughing, difficulty to throw out air easily without effort. There could also be phlegm, which can be colorless (unlike an infection)
  5. Tuberculosis: This is a bacterial infection of the lung tissue, and there is shortness of breath, a cough which persists for more than 5 weeks, and greenish-yellowish sputum. The person also would have very low energy levels, and sometimes blood in the sputum too.
  6. Pneumonia: Pneumonia again is an infection of the lung and can be caused by bacteria or virus. This again causes chest pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and a greenish sputum.
  7. Lung cancer: With smoking and environmental pollution on the rise, the instances of lung cancer have also been on the rise. This is usually diagnosed in the later stages as the symptoms are confused with any common respiratory disorders and ignored. Chest pain, chronic cough, difficulty breathing, and voice changes are some common symptoms of cancer.
  8. Emphysema: Caused predominantly by smoking, this causes breathing difficulties and reduces the amount of air available for exchange in the lungs. There is no cure, but quitting smoking can reduce the severity of the condition.

Know that prolonged problems with respiratory tract require further investigation and should not be ignored as just another attack of cold and cough. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2955 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

Please suggest lymph node tb Is lymph node tb painful? Had cervical lymph node tb at age of 10. Completed full ATT. Had chickenpox with urti with b/l enlarged retroauricular (just below auricle) 1.5 month ago. Working as MBBS intern in government hospital. NO PAIN/no fever/no malaise/no cough/no symptoms at all Except big grapes sized enlarged nodes at same site. Is it lymph node tb again? Or it must/may be painful for tb diagnosis? Or its just reactive enlargement due to chickenpox history? When to suspect tbLN? Can CRP, ESR diagnose?

BASM, MD, MS (Counseling & Psychotherapy), MSc - Psychology, Certificate in Clinical psychology of children and Young People, Certificate in Psychological First Aid, Certificate in Positive Psychology, Positive Psychiatry and Mental Health
Psychologist, Palakkad
OBJECTIVE: The currently recommended treatment for lymph node tuberculosis is 6 months of rifampicin and isoniazid plus pyrazinamide for the first 2 months, given either daily or thrice weekly. The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of a 6-month twice-weekly regimen and a daily two-drug regimen. METHODS: Patients with biopsy confirmed superficial lymph node tuberculosis were randomly allocated to receive either a daily self-administered 6-month regimen of rifampicin and isoniazid, or a twice-weekly, directly observed, 6-month regimen of rifampicin and isoniazid plus pyrazinamide for the first 2 months, in Madurai, South India, Patients were followed up for 36 months after completing treatment. RESULTS: Of 277 enrolled patients, data was available for analysis in 268. At the end of treatment, 116 of 134 [87%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 81-93%] patients in each treatment group had a favourable clinical response; 14 (11%; 95% CI 6-16%) and 17 (13%; 95% CI 7-19%) patients had a doubtful response, and 4 (3%; 95% CI 0-6%) and 1 (1%; 95% CI 0-2%) patients had an unfavourable response among those treated with the daily and twice-weekly regimen, respectively. During 36 months after completion of treatment, five patients [2 (2%; 95% CI 1-3%) and 3 (2%; 95% CI 1-3%) patients treated with the daily and twice-weekly regimen, respectively] had relapse of lymph node tuberculosis, of 260 assessed. Adverse reactions probably attributable to the treatment regimens occurred in 1% of the patients treated daily and in 11% of those treated twice-weekly (P < 0.001). At the end of 36 months after treatment, 126 of 134 (94%; 95% CI 90-98%) and 129 of 134 (96%; 95% CI 94-98%) of the patients treated with the daily and twice-weekly regimen, respectively, had a successful outcome. CONCLUSION: Both the self-administered daily regimen and the fully observed twice-weekly regimen were highly efficacious for treating patients with lymph node tuberculosis and may be considered as alternative options to the recommended regimens.

Sir .I had extrapulmonary TB (affected lymph nodes) and it is treated and cured during 2016. Is there any problem in future for me to visit foreign countries?

M.D - Respiratory Medicine
Pulmonologist, Hyderabad
No Relapse of the disease may run risk if immunity is reduced by Cancer Diabetes Drugs etc Take Care to prevent what can be prevented and treated early if at all they occur (God forbid)

Is macflox 400 guy choice for mdr Tb treatment? My doctor advice me moxifloxacin 400 one day for mdr Tb along with some other drugs is okay is it correct drug.

MD - Medicine, MD - Pulmonary Medicine
Pulmonologist, Pune
There is definite protocol of MDR treatment. Consult only senior chest physician only and no body else. To begin with 6 or more drugs including moxifloxacin is there, according to drug sensitivity report by Hains test.

For tuberculosis is it mandatory to do drug susceptible test? If a person has already done AFB culture and Genexpert and is shown with MDR TB.

Pulmonologist, Mumbai
Yes. It is necessary to know which drugs are working for the patient correctly. Genexpert and culture will only say that this is MDR tb but not the pattern of resistance to other drugs. The patient can also be further resistant to multiple drugs and not doing drug susceptibilty may miss an XDR tb. This can jeopardize the complete treatment
1 person found this helpful

Dear sir, My brother 28 has diagnosed TB. And he take medicine like combutol 1000, ripamicin 150 isonazide 300 levoflox 750. And he regularly vomit. Sir can you suggest the timing of rifampicin, and isoniazid plz.

MD (Physician), MD (Pulmonology)
Pulmonologist, Bareilly
Dear Lybrateuser, you have not mentioned the duration of present ATT therapy. Please note that TB treatment is a step wise therapy and despite best efforts some side effects like vomiting & loss of appetite occur at start of treatment. You should have patience and please don't change / switch / alter TB medicines or their doses. Kindly reconsult your doctor to solve this issue. But in case the vomiting does not decrease, you can always have a second opinion from a Pulmonologist. Wishing your patient a speedy recovery.
1 person found this helpful

Table of Content

What is Tuberculosis?

There are two types of Tuberculosis:

Causes and Symptoms :

Play video
Hello friends,

I am Dr Nikhil Modi I am a consultant respiratory medicine in Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi. Today I will be talking about tuberculosis, as you know tuberculosis is one of the important diseases which we come across especially in a country like India. Tuberculosis what do we know about it, it is actually a disease which is caused by bacteria called microbacterium tuberculosis. It is a slow-growing bacteria hence symptoms of tuberculosis noted are very shuttle and slow to progress. How do we come to know that we have to get workout for tuberculosis? It is important to work upstart as early as possible because controlling the disease is possible if proper treatment is started. So what will be the symptoms which you will come across when you suffer from tuberculosis? Tuberculosis firstly can involve any part of the body, but most commonly it involves our lungs and the lining over the lungs, it is called as pulmonary tuberculosis. So the most common symptoms which we come across are cough which may be dry or sometimes we may have some sputum along with it, also one of the important features which is seen is presence of blood in sputum. So if anytime sputum is having blood you should get alarm and immediately consultant a specialist. Cough is usually caused by most of the allergic symptoms or other infections, so how do we differentiate, it is actually not easily differentiable from other cough but if your cough is persisting for more than 2 weeks then our work up of tuberculosis becomes important. So if you have a long-term cough you are Hemoptysis then always consult a specialist and go for the work up for tuberculosis. Secondly presence of low grade fever which may persist, if you are having weight loss, your appetite is reduce for a long time all this can be symptoms of tuberculosis. So in all these cases, a workup for tuberculosis becomes a must so at that point in time you need to consult a specialist. And it is easy to treat tuberculosis, if it is identified and drugs are good but the treatment is at least for a period of 6 months, which you have to take regularly otherwise tuberculosis may become resistant, the bacteria may become resistant and then it is difficult to treat it is called as MDR tuberculosis but now we have a treatment for that but the treatment may continue for two and a half years and it requires constant monitoring. There can be side effects from the drugs, but if you are in a proper supervision then that side effect can be minimised and the disease can we cured hundred percent. So any symptoms which may point out toward tuberculosis you should not ignore and consult a specialist as soon as possible. This is the basic crux about tuberculosis and I want to just say ki just be ready for it and it can be treated easily.

For any queries for my point of view if you want to ask you can visit me at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi or you can contact me online on Lybrate platform.

Thank you.
Play video
Briefing On Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis - Symptoms and treatment
Play video
Tuberculosis During Pregnancy
Tuberculosis: Treatment and Management
Play video
Are You at a Higher Risk of Developing TB?
Are you at higher risk of developing TB?

TB is a major health problem in India, with nearly 12 lakh people getting diagnosed with the disease each year. The fact that more than one-third of the cases of TB remain undiagnosed, or are diagnosed but proper treatment is not opted for, makes it even more difficult to deal with the disease. Moreover, the TB bacilli, which causes the disease is present in its latent form in 40% Indians who possess a high risk of developing TB but do not exhibit any symptoms.

Who are prone to TB?

Although TB can affect people of any age or physical condition, some people are at a higher risk of developing the disease than others. People who are more prone to TB are:

- Anyone with a weak immune system
- Small children and elderly people
- People suffering from diabetes or detected to be HIV positive
- People who have been exposed to immunotherapy or have consumed steroids for a long time

What is the classification of TB?

TB is curable, but for correct treatment, it is necessary to diagnose the type of the disease correctly. TB can be broadly classified into the following types:

General TB: In this type of TB, the bacilli show sensitivity to most drugs required for treating the disease.

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB): In this form of the condition, the bacilli show resistance to two major drugs required for treatment of TB, Isoniazid, and Rifampicin.

Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB): This type of TB is rarely observed and is caused by a bacilli which show resistance to most drugs including Isoniazid, Rifampicin, any fluoroquinolone and to at least one of three injectable second-line drug - Capreomycin, Kanamycin, and Amikacin.

Moreover, TB is also classified in two other forms - primary and secondary. Primary TB is the form, which affects a person who hasn't been previously exposed to the infection; whereas secondary TB refers to the reactivation of the infection in a previously infected person due to decline in health and immune system.

What are the treatment options available for TB?

Treatment of TB involves intake of certain prescription drugs for about 6 to 9 months. It is strongly recommended that the treatment is continued till the end and the drugs are consumed exactly in the way suggested by the physician. If the intake of drugs is stopped before the requisite period, the condition may relapse; and if the medications are not consumed correctly, the bacteria might develop a resistance to the drugs.

Treatment of MDR-TB and XDR-TB is a complicated process as any wrong step might prove to be fatal for the patient. It usually begins by conducting a drug-susceptibility test to identify the drugs to which the bacilli are resistant to. After the test results are revealed, the treatment plan is shaped accordingly and the patient is closely observed throughout the process. Moreover, treatment of drug-resistant TB always includes the use of directly observed therapy (DOT).

Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice