What are the Symptoms of active TB?

Active tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious and potentially serious bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The symptoms of active TB can vary from person to person, and they may develop gradually over time. Common symptoms of active TB include:

  • Chronic Cough: A persistent cough that lasts for more than three weeks is one of the hallmark symptoms of active TB. The cough may produce sputum (phlegm) or blood.
  • Chest Pain: Chest pain or discomfort may occur and is often associated with coughing or deep breathing.
  • Coughing up Blood (Hemoptysis): Coughing up blood or blood-tinged sputum can be a concerning symptom of active TB.
  • Fatigue: Persistent fatigue and weakness are common in individuals with active TB.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: Unintended weight loss can occur, and it may be significant.
  • Loss of Appetite: A reduced appetite and decreased food intake are typical symptoms.
  • Fever: A low-grade fever or fever spikes, especially in the late afternoon or evening, are common with active TB.
  • Night Sweats: Profuse night sweats that drench the bedclothes are a characteristic symptom of TB.
  • Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath can occur if TB has spread to the lungs and is causing pneumonia.
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes: Enlarged lymph nodes, particularly in the neck, armpits, or groin, may be present.
  • Other Symptoms: Other less common symptoms of active TB can include joint pain, headache, and confusion, especially in cases where TB has spread to other parts of the body beyond the lungs (extrapulmonary TB).

It’s important to note that not everyone with active TB will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity and combination of symptoms can vary. Additionally, symptoms of TB can mimic those of other respiratory illnesses, which makes diagnosis more challenging.

TB is primarily spread through the air when an infected individual with active TB in the lungs coughs or sneezes, releasing infectious particles into the environment. It’s a serious infectious disease, and prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent its spread and manage the infection.

If you suspect you have active TB or are experiencing symptoms consistent with TB, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. TB is a treatable disease, and with the right medications and adherence to a prescribed treatment regimen, most individuals can be cured. Treatment typically involves a combination of antibiotics over a period of several months. Public health authorities are often involved to help with contact tracing and to prevent further transmission.

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