Tuberculosis (TB) is an infection. It commonly affects the lungs but may occur in other parts of the body. It is caused by germs breathed into the lungs.
After being breathed in, the germs may be killed by the body’s immune system and cause no problems, or they may cause an illness a few days to a few months later.
TB sometimes causes no illness but remains dormant, before causing disease many years after the germ enters the body, particularly if the body is weakened by other medical problems. Some of the symptoms are:
- Cough - sometimes with phlegm which may be bloodstained
- Fever - particularly with drenching sweats at night
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Chest pain
If TB is present in other parts of the body it can cause lumps in the neck and/or pain and/or swelling in the joints, back or tummy
TB is usually diagnosed after a chest x-ray has been taken and a specimen of phlegm looked at. You may also be asked to have a simple skin test.
TB can now be completely cured by treatment with tablets, which must be taken every day for 6-12 months.