Tuberculosis Home > Symptoms of Tuberculosis
Generally, people only show symptoms of tuberculosis when they have the active form of the disease. Early signs and symptoms may include fever, chills, and loss of appetite. The more specific symptoms of the condition include cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer, pain in the chest, and coughing up blood.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a chronic bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This bacterium is spread through the air and usually infects the lungs, although other organs and parts of the body can be involved as well. Most people who are infected with M. tuberculosis harbor the bacterium without symptoms (known as latent tuberculosis), but some will develop active tuberculosis. In other cases, the bacteria die off. A positive TB skin test and old scars on a chest x-ray may provide the only evidence that a person was ever infected with tuberculosis.
In most people who breathe in the tuberculosis bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. The bacteria become inactive, but they remain alive in the body and can become active later. This is called latent tuberculosis. People with latent tuberculosis:
- Have no symptoms of tuberculosis
- Don't feel sick
- Can't spread TB to others
- Usually have a positive TB skin test (PPD test) reaction.
Some people with latent tuberculosis can develop active tuberculosis if they do not receive treatment.