May 16, 2009

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Tuberculosis (cont.)

Tuberculosis Symptoms

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, but 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 50%-60% of cases, the disease can return.

  • Tuberculous pleuritis may occur in 10% of 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 abdominal cavity.

    • 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.

  • 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:

  • About 15% of people may develop tuberculosis in an organ other than their lungs. About 25% of these people usually had known TB with inadequate treatment. The most common sites include the following:

Next: When to Seek Medical Care »

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