What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis, or TB, is a disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria can attack any part of your body, but they usually attack the lungs. Tuberculosis was once the leading cause of death in the United States.
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs or sneezes. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.
A person may be infected with tuberculosis without showing any signs or symptoms. In this case people are said to have latent TB and cannot spread TB. These people may or may not ever develop TB disease. In some cases the bacteria may remain inactive for a lifetime and never cause TB disease, however, in other people, especially people who have weak immune systems, the bacteria become active and cause TB disease.
People with TB can be treated and cured if they seek medical help. Even better, people who have latent TB infection but are not yet sick can take medicine so that they will never develop TB disease.
What are the symptoms of TB?
Symptoms of TB depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs. TB in the lungs may cause:
Other symptoms of TB disease are: