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Updated on April 20, 2020

Tuberculosis (TB) of the Lung

Tuberculosis (TB) is infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium Tuberculosis that mainly affects the lungs (80% of the cases). The bacteria can spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughing and sneezing. 

Click to watch MSF video on TB

Symptoms of TB of the Lung

  • Chronic persistent cough with sputum
  • Coughing up blood
  • Breathlessness
  • Fever with night sweats
  • Pain or discomfort on breathing
  • Unexplained weight loss

How is TB diagnosed

Your doctor will take a detailed history and examination of your whole body.  You will need to undergo the following tests

  • Chest X-ray and/or CT scan
  • Mantoux skin test
  • Sputum test (or bronchoscopy aspirate test)
  • Blood test

Treatment of TB

TB can be life-threatening if you do not get the correct treatment. It can spread to other parts of the body such as the spine, kidney or brain.  Latent TB can also progress to active TB especially in people who have weakened immune system such as cancer, HIV, diabetes, malnutrition or smokers.  Treatment of TB requires several (between 3-9) months to ensure complete cure.  You may be required to take a combination of the following medications.  It is IMPORTANT you take ALL the medicine you are prescribed and NOT miss any of them.  This is to prevent the bacteria from becoming resistant to drugs or you getting TB recurrences in the future.

  • Isoniazid
  • Pyrazinamide
  • Ethambutol
  • Rifampicin

Self Care while on Treatment

  • Don’t go to work, school or sleep in the same room with other people during the first 2-3 weeks of treatment for active tuberculosis.  You doctor will advise you the exact duration
  • Open the windows and ventilate your room to allow fresh air in
  • Use a tissue to cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Put the dirty tissue in a bag before throwing it away
  • Wear a mask during the first three weeks of treatment to prevent spread to other people
  • Get a regular eye check while you are on TB medication as the medication may affect your vision

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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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