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Tuberculosis (cont.)

Tuberculosis Symptoms and Signs

Patient Comments

You may not notice any symptoms of illness until the disease is quite advanced. Even then the symptoms -- loss of weight, loss of energy, poor appetite, fever, a productive cough, and night sweats -- might easily be blamed on another disease.

  • Only about 10% of people infected with M. tuberculosis ever develop tuberculosis disease. Many of those who suffer TB do so in the first few years following infection. However, the bacillus may lie dormant in the body for decades.
  • Although most initial infections have no symptoms and people overcome them, they may develop fever, dry cough, and abnormalities that may be seen on a chest X-ray.
    • This is called primary pulmonary tuberculosis.
    • Pulmonary tuberculosis frequently goes away by itself, but in more than half of cases, the disease can return.
  • Tuberculous pleuritis may occur in some people who have the lung disease from tuberculosis.
    • The pleural disease occurs from the rupture of a diseased area into the pleural space, the space between the lung and the lining of the chest and abdominal cavities.
    • These people have a nonproductive cough, chest pain, and fever. The disease may go away and then come back at a later date.
  • In a minority of people with weakened immune systems, TB bacteria may spread through their blood to various parts of the body.
    • This is called miliary tuberculosis and produces fever, weakness, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
    • Cough and difficulty breathing are less common.
  • Generally, return of dormant tuberculosis infection occurs in the upper lungs. Symptoms include
    • common cough with a progressive increase in production of mucus and
    • coughing up blood.
    • Other symptoms include the following:
  • Some people may develop tuberculosis in an organ other than their lungs. About a quarter of these people usually had known TB with inadequate treatment. The most common sites include the following:
    • lymph nodes,
    • genitourinary tract,
    • bone and joint sites,
    • meninges, and
    • the lining covering the outside of the gastrointestinal tract.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/6/2014

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Tuberculosis »

Tuberculosis (TB) is the most common cause of infectious disease–related mortality worldwide.

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