You can spread TB to others even if you do not yet have symptoms. TB mostly affects the lungs, but almost any part of the body can be infected. You may have any of the following:
- A fever or night sweats
- Weight loss without trying
- A cough for at least 3 weeks
- Blood in your sputum
- Chest or upper back pain, especially when you breathe
- Shortness of breath
How is TB diagnosed?
- A TB skin test is an injection into the skin of your forearm. Your skin is checked after 2 to 3 days for signs of TB. This test is done to see if you have been exposed to the germ that causes TB.
- Blood tests may show a TB infection and how well your organs are working.
- A sputum sample is tested for the germ that causes TB. It can also help healthcare providers choose the best treatment for you. Mucus from your lungs is collected in a cup when you cough. You may need to give 3 samples of your sputum, usually first thing in the morning.
- A chest x-ray may show swelling, infection, or lung collapse.
- A CT scan may show lung damage, infection, and TB. You may be given contrast liquid to help healthcare providers see your lungs better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
How to prevent the spread of TB?
- Take your medicine as directed. If you forget to take your pills one time, skip that dose and take the next scheduled dose. Write down that you missed a dose and tell your healthcare provider at your next visit.
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child’s diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
- Cover your mouth and nose. You may need to wear a mask. Use tissues when you cough or sneeze. Throw the used tissue away. If possible, flush used tissues down a toilet.
- Avoid close contact with others. Babies and elderly people are at increased risk for TB.
- Tell family, friends, and coworkers that you have TB. They may have latent TB and need to take medicine to prevent it from becoming active.
How is TB treated?
TB is treated with antibiotic medicine to fight the infection. You may need to take 3 to 4 types of antibiotics for up to 8 weeks. Then you may need to take at least 2 types of antibiotics for another 18 to 31 weeks. At present, the main Anti-TB drugs are:
- Ethambutol hcl