Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a fatal contagious infectious disease acquired by a bacteria known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) bacteria.Nearly about 10 million people have active TB globally. Being contagious, Tuberculosis (TB) is not easily transmitted from person to person. It mostly affects the lungs and also damages other body parts like kidneys, brain and spinal cord. TB is completely curable and preventable. Tuberculosis is transmitted from one person to another through air droplets. When infected people with lung TB sneeze, cough or spit, they release the TB bacterial germs into the air. To get infected, a person needs to inhale only some of this Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) germs. Those with weak immunity, such as individuals living with malnutrition or diabetes, HIV, cancer patients, other health conditions, young children, or people using tobacco products, are more prone to falling ill with this tuberculosis disease.


Symptoms of Tuberculosis

Although the body can shelter the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) bacteria, the body's immunity protects the infected person from becoming sick. Therefore, pulmonologists make a distinction between -

Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI)

An individual is infected with a TB infection, but the bacteria are inactive and cause no symptoms of TB, and the person is not sick. Latent TB, or inactive TB is not contagious, but it can transform into active TB, so immediate treatment is required.

Active TB or TB disease

It shows TB symptoms and, in most of the cases, can infect others who are in close contact with the sick person. The transmission capacity can occur weeks or years after infection with the TB bacteria.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Low-grade fever
  • Night sweats
  • Weakness
  • Loss of weight
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing (with sputum)
  • Coughing up blood
  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
Sign and Symptoms of Tuberculosis

When to see a doctor?

Suppose you suspect that you have TB and notice its symptoms; contact your primary care doctor. You could be advised to consult a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases or lung diseases (pulmonologist).If you experience fever, sudden weight loss, night sweats, or a persistent cough, consult your doctor.

Doctor consultation is advised in the following situations-

  • HIV infection
  • Close contact with an infected person
  • Travel to a country where TB is a common disease.
  • Working in healthcare facilities and treating people with a greater risk of TB
  • Children who are exposed to people infected with TB disease.


A bacterium that causes tuberculosis disease is Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) bacteria. Tuberculosis disease is passed on through the air droplets when a TB patient sneezes, coughs, laughs, or sings. For a person to get infected, a person must be in close contact with an untreated TB disease patient for a long time and needs to inhale the TB germs to get the disease. This disease does not develop by sharing kitchen utensils or in contact with saliva when kissing someone.

Risk Factors of Tuberculosis

A strong immune system effectively fights TB bacteria. However, a weakened immune system increases the risk of getting tuberculosis disease. Several factors can weaken your immune system, such as -

  • HIV infection
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney problems
  • Certain strong medications
  • Malnutrition
  • Young children
  • Poor health
  • Working in high-risk zone (hospitals, healthcare centres, health camps)
  • Travelling to high-risk countries having TB disease.

What happens when you don’t treat TB?

Without TB treatment, the consequences can be fatal. The active disease usually affects the lungs, and it can also seriously impact other parts of the body. Tuberculosis complications are as follows -

  • Spinal pain
  • Joint damage
  • Meningitis
  • Liver or kidney disorders
  • Heart problems

Prevention of Tuberculosis

In case of a positive latent TB infection, your pulmonologist will prescribe you medicines to reduce the risk of active tuberculosis disease. Active TB disease is contagious. Treatment for active TB generally takes a few weeks to complete. In the meantime, you can take precautions to protect your friends and family from getting sick:

  • Stay home
  • Ventilate your room.
  • Cover your mouth while coughing.
  • Wear a good face mask.

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)

It is the ability of some TB strains to survive even treatment with certain TB medications that would normally kill them. (antibiotic resistance)

What is extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB)?

Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a subset of MDR-TB where the TB bacterial strains are immune to nearly all TB drugs used to treat TB infection. These types of TB strains are very tough to treat.


Your TB specialist or pulmonologist may advise certain diagnostic tests to identify the tuberculosis disease's severity accurately.

The TB diagnostic tests include -

  • TB skin test (TST) or Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST)
  • TB blood tests or interferon-gamma release assays or IGRAs
  • Chest x-ray for tuberculosis - To look for lung changes inducive for TB disease.
  • Phlegm test - Samples of phlegm will be taken to detect TB bacteria
  • Pulmonary function tests (PFTs)

Diagnostic tests for Extrapulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB) -

  • CT test
  • MRI test
  • Ultrasound scan test
  • Endoscopy
  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • T-SPOT TB test (T-Spot)
  • QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT-GIT)
  • Tissue biopsy


Tuberculosis treatments include antibiotic medicines. Your tuberculosis specialist will prescribe medicines according to your health, age, whether your TB is active or latent, and whether the TB is drug-resistant. Your tuberculosis doctor will prescribe TB medicines for 6-9 months. If you have latent TB, you can take medicine to prevent the disease from escalating, and this is called preventive therapy.

The commonly used drugs used to treat tuberculosis include

  • Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)
  • Isoniazid
  • Ethambutol (Myambutol)
  • Pyrazinamide

Do's and Don’ts

Tuberculosis is a severe contagious disease. It can cause severe lung infection and other serious complications if left untreated. Treatment involves the use of multiple antibiotics for a prolonged period. Antibiotic resistance is a major concern in TB management with the growing problem of multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

Do’s Don’ts
Wear a good mask Spit in public places
Clean hands regularly Skip taking TB medicines
Take prescribed medicines on time Consume alcohol and tobacco in any form
Eat a healthy diet Ignore tuberculosis symptoms
Take TB vaccine (BCG vaccine) Stay in a non-ventilated room

Tuberculosis disease is curable and preventable. Eating a healthy diet, covering the mouth properly and taking the TB vaccine (BCG vaccine) can prevent the TB disease.

Care at Medicover Hospitals

Get the best treatment for tuberculosis disease at Medicover Hospitals from the best pulmonologists, TB specialists, lung specialists and general medicine doctors who diagnose and treat various respiratory conditions. At Medicover Hospitals, we have the most trusted team of pulmonologists and TB specialists working together to provide excellent healthcare to our patients. Our team adopts a multi-disciplinary approach for treating tuberculosis and respiratory disease conditions with the active participation of healthcare experts from different specialities like pulmonologists, chest physicians, infectious diseases specialists, trained nurses and other paramedical staff, who provide the best treatment for respiratory conditions. We provide world-class healthcare services at affordable costs in all our departments to offer our customers high-quality treatment outcomes and satisfactory experiences.