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Tuberculosis or TB is a bacterial infection that attacks the lungs. This infection is very dangerous and can be contagious when a person coughs or sneezes, then is inhaled by someone else whose immune system is low.

Although it often attacks the lungs, TB can also interfere with other body parts. For example, glands in the stomach, bones, and nervous system. The most effective drug to treat this disease is antibiotics.

What are the signs of tuberculosis?

This disease can be categorized into 2 groups, namely latent TB and active TB.

In latent TB, the patient does not feel any symptoms at all because the bacteria have not spread so that this condition is not contagious. If later it turns into active TB, the patient will begin to feel a number of disturbing symptoms. Generally, indications of active TB can be:

  • A cough that can become a phlegm cough. This cough lasts for 21 days or more
  • Blood coughing
  • A chest that hurts when breathing or coughing
  • No appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever and chills
  • Excessive sweating at night
  • Fatigue


Contact your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms. TB can be cured if treated carefully and appropriately.

Not all TB bacilli that enter the body directly cause symptoms (active tuberculosis). There are also cases where TB bacilli hide without triggering symptoms until one day turns active. This condition is known as latent tuberculosis. Apart from not experiencing symptoms, people with latent tuberculosis are also not contagious. It is estimated that about one third of the world's population has latent TB.

While TB develops, damages lung tissue, and causes symptoms within a few weeks after infection is known as active tuberculosis. It is very important that this type of TB be treated because it includes infectious diseases..

What are the causes of tuberculosis?

This disease is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This bacterium spreads through the air when someone coughs, sneezes or even speaks. Then it will enter the human body which accidentally inhales it. Even so, the spread is not as easy as a flu or cold virus.

Not everyone who breathes the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria will get TB. This bacterium will not develop even though it has entered the body of a person with a strong immune system.

If the immune system is unable to kill it, the bacteria will remain silent in the body. When the immune system decreases, infection can cause symptoms.

Every person has the potential to experience TB, but this disease is more common in people who are in the following conditions:

  • Being sick
  • Live in a crowded and slum area
  • Having an immune system that is weak due to the influence of certain conditions, such as having HIV or undergoing chemotherapy
  • Often make direct contact with TB patients, for example doctors or nurses

The process of diagnosing tuberculosis

If you suspect someone has TB, there are a number of steps commonly taken by doctors to diagnose the presence of TB-causing bacteria. Some of them are:

Physical examination

At this stage, the doctor will check whether your lungs can breathe properly.

Mantoux test

This skin test is usually recommended to detect TB in children. The doctor will inject a liquid called tuberculin PPD in the patient. If a lump that exceeds the normal level appears after 48-72 hours at the injection site, the patient is positive for TB.

Phlegm Test

This test is generally intended for adult patients. Sputum samples will be taken so that they can be examined to detect the type of bacteria that is in the patient's body. For TB patients, doctors will look for Acid Resistant Bacteria. By knowing the presence or absence of bacteria, doctors will determine the type and duration of effective treatment for patients.

Scanning Test

This test can include chest X-ray or CT scan. Scanning aims to get a detailed picture of the condition of the lungs.

Blood test

To see the immune system's reaction to TB bacteria, doctors can recommend a blood test.

Treatment of tuberculosis

This serious classified disease can be cured and is rarely fatal if treated properly. The treatment step used is the administration of antibiotics that TB sufferers must spend for a certain period of time according to the doctor's prescription.

The types of antibiotics commonly used are isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol. Like all other drugs, antibiotics for TB also have side effects, especially rifampicin, isoniazid, and ethambutol. Rifampicin can reduce the effectiveness of contraceptives that contain hormones. While ethambutol can affect the condition of vision of the sufferer. and isoniazid has the potential to damage the nerves.

A number of other side effects of TB drugs include nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, jaundice, dark urine, fever, rashes, and itching of the skin.

The recovery period of TB varies from person to person and depends on the condition of the health of the sufferer and the severity of TB experienced. The condition of sufferers generally will start to improve and TB will stop infectious after taking antibiotics for 2 weeks. But to ensure complete recovery, people with TB must use antibiotics given by the doctor for 6 months.

If the person does not take the medication according to the doctor's prescription or stops taking it before the recommended time, TB bacteria can not disappear completely even if the person feels that his condition has improved. Infected TB infections also have the potential to become antibiotic resistant. If this happens, TB will become more dangerous and difficult to treat so that the healing period will be much longer.

Risk of Tuberculosis Complications

If untreated, TB bacteria can spread to other parts of the body and potentially threaten the life of the sufferer. Some complications that may occur are:

  • Back pain
  • Meningitis
  • Joint damage
  • Liver, kidney or heart disorders

Prevention of Tuberculosis

The main step to prevent tuberculosis is to receive BCG immunization (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin). You can also prevent TB by always wearing a mask while in a crowded place, if you interact with people with TB, and wash your hands regularly (especially medical workers).

People with TB can transmit the disease if they have not been treated for a period of time determined by the doctor. If you have TB, the following steps will be very useful to prevent the spread to families and people around.

  • Cover your mouth when sneezing, coughing, and laughing. You can also wear a mask. If you use tissue, discard it immediately after use.
  • Do not throw phlegm or spit carelessly.
  • Make sure your house has good air circulation, for example, often opening doors and windows so that fresh air and sunlight can enter.
  • Stay at home and do not sleep in a room with other people until at least a few weeks after taking treatment.



Disease : the Official Journal of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

World Health Organization WHO (2018). Fact Sheets: Tuberculosis.

World Health Organization WHO (2016). Global Tuberculosis Report 2016.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.