Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious infectious disease that has affected humans since the dawn of civilization until now. Although tuberculosis was brought under control in the early 20th century thanks to vaccines and antibiotics, HIV and other strains of resistant bacteria are driving the re-emergence of TB. If you feel that you are experiencing symptoms of tuberculosis, seek medical attention immediately and undergo treatment with antibiotics for 6 months to 2 years.
Part 1 of 3: Recognizing Tuberculosis
Step 1. Be alert if someone you know or live with has TB
In its active form, TB is highly contagious. TB is spread from person to person through airborne droplets in the breath.
You can have tuberculosis without experiencing any symptoms. Latent tuberculosis occurs when you have the disease, but the condition is inactive. Under these circumstances, TB is not contagious or fatal, but it can become active at any time
Step 2. Look for signs of lung problems
Symptoms of tuberculosis first appear in the lungs. Cough, lung congestion, and chest pain are common symptoms of active tuberculosis.
Step 3. Record any flu-like symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, night sweats, or chills
Active TB may look like the common cold, cold, or other illness.
Step 4. Weigh yourself to check if you lost weight in a short time
Patients with TB usually report unexplained weight loss.
Step 5. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms, especially if you are HIV positive
People with HIV are the group at greatest risk of developing antibiotic-resistant strains of TB. They should contact a doctor if they have been in contact with someone who has TB.
- Anyone with a weakened immune system is also at increased risk of developing TB. People with diabetes, malnutrition, cancer, and kidney disease are at high risk, especially those who are very young or very old.
- When your immune system is weakened, a latent TB infection can turn into an active infection. In this condition, you become “infectious” and are at risk of developing fatal symptoms.
Part 2 of 3: Diagnosing Tuberculosis
Step 1. Schedule an appointment with your doctor
When you see your doctor, laboratory tests may be needed.
Step 2. Run a skin antigen test
The doctor or laboratory worker will inject an antigen into your skin. A positive reaction will recognize the presence of latent or active TB.
- Antigen is a substance that will bind itself with antibodies in the blood. Antibodies are your immune defense system against a type of disease.
- Welts or red marks on the skin indicate a positive test result. In general, the wider the mark, the more active TB is in your body.
Step 3. Request a blood test
If you've had the TB vaccine before, you can get a false positive result on a skin test. The doctor will perform a blood test that will distinguish the antibodies formed by the vaccine and the antibodies formed by the TB bacteria.
Step 4. Perform an X-ray examination
Your doctor or radiologist can determine if you have active TB by examining your lungs.
Step 5. Give a sample of sputum (phlegm) to the doctor
By providing a sputum sample obtained by coughing, the laboratory can determine if you have a drug-resistant strain of TB.
Part 3 of 3: Treating Tuberculosis
Step 1. Initiate initial antibiotic treatment for TB
You will be prescribed Isoniazid or Rifampicin for a period of 6 to 12 months. Always complete the entire course of antibiotic treatment.
If you stop taking antibiotics, the TB bacteria will become resistant to these drugs. Resistant TB can be more fatal than regular TB
Step 2. Go on a second or third course of treatment, if your doctor determines that you have drug-resistant TB
You may need to take several medications for up to 2 years.
Step 3. Take TB treatment injections
If you have TB that is resistant to multiple drugs, you will need to get regular injections of TB treatment. Although the condition is very rare, this type of TB is more fatal than other types.
Tuberculosis is very good at mutating and becoming resistant to medical therapy. For this reason, the TB cure process requires consistent medical treatment until the bacteria are completely gone
Step 4. Check with your doctor regularly
Only a doctor can determine how long you should be on treatment. However, with the current variety of TB types, you will stop/not become infectious after 2 weeks of treatment, and you will no longer be a risk to others once you have finished your antibiotic treatment.
- Be aware that TB treatment can cause fever, nausea, jaundice, or loss of appetite. Call your doctor before you stop the treatment process.
- Never stop TB treatment early, except on doctor's orders. You will be at risk of developing antibiotic-resistant TB.