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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (or TB for short) is an infectious disease, usually of the lungs. It is caused by a type of bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
What are the symptoms of tuberculosis?
Symptoms of tuberculosis include a persistent cough lasting more than three weeks, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up mucus or blood, fever, chills, night sweats, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Who gets tuberculosis?
Anyone can catch tuberculosis. People at risk of developing active disease are people with weak immune systems, such as people infected with HIV.
How is tuberculosis diagnosed?
There are several tests for confirming the presence of tuberculosis bacteria in the body, including a skin test, chest X-ray, sputum smear test and blood test.
How is tuberculosis treated?
Tuberculosis is treated with a combination of specific antibiotic drugs. The treatment commonly takes several months to complete.
Can tuberculosis be cured?
If treated correctly, tuberculosis can be completely cured. Some drug-resistant strains of the bacteria can be much more difficult to get rid of than ordinary TB bacteria.
Will tuberculosis clear on its own?
In a healthy person infected with tuberculosis, the body's immune system can keep the tuberculosis bacteria contained and kept at bay until they eventually die off on their own.
Is tuberculosis contagious?
Tuberculosis is contagious. It is contracted by breathing in the respiratory droplets from an infected person.
Is tuberculosis serious?
Tuberculosis is a serious condition that requires correct treatment. Untreated, it can lead to serious medical problems and even death.
What increases the chances of developing tuberculosis?
Exposure to people with tuberculosis increases the chances of developing the disease. There are certain areas in the world where tuberculosis is more common. Also, a weakened immune system puts a person exposed to tuberculosis at …
About this article
Author: Dr Joanne Van der Velden PhD, BSc (Hons)
First answered: 18 Sep 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.2 out of 5
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