The facts about tuberculosis
Tuberculosis - the facts
Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial infection of the lungs, but it may spread to other organs.
The classic symptoms are a chronic cough - sometimes with blood - fever, night sweats, fatigue and weight loss, although the primary stage of the disease generally does not cause any symptoms.
Other symptoms are breathing difficulties, chest pain and wheezing. Old people, infants and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of active TB.
The risk of contracting the disease increases if a person is in regular contact with people who have it, has poor nutrition or lives in crowded or unsanitary conditions.
Pulmonary TB can cause permanent lung damage if not treated early.
Treatment of active pulmonary TB will always involve a combination of drugs, usually four. The drug regimen is continued until laboratory tests show which medicines work best. Commonly used drugs include isoniazid, rifampin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol.
The disease is preventable, even in those who have been exposed to an infected person.
Methods of testing for TB include a chest X-ray, a bronchoscopy, a chest CT scan and a tuberculin skin test.
* The National