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Tuberculosis (Active vs. latent)

What is "TB?"
“TB” is a short name for a disease called tuberculosis and it is spread by tiny germs that can float in the air. When a person with TB disease coughs, sneezes or shouts they can spray these germs into the air. If another person breathes in these germs, they can get tuberculosis (TB). TB can make you feel tired, have a cough, fever and night sweats. Most 
people think that TB can only affect your lungs. Even though 70% of those infected with TB have the germs in their lungs, TB can also infect other places in the body such as the bone, brain or heart. 
 
Some people may have the TB germ in their body, but do not feel sick. This is called latent “sleeping” TB infection. Others feel sick, and they have active TB disease.

 
Symptoms that can occur in the body when TB becomes active include: 
​Body Location​​Symptoms
​lungs​cough, increased sputum (phlegm) coughing blood
​glands of the neck ​lumps in the neck
​bones​pain in the bones or back 
​head​headache, pain when moving head, stiff neck, fever

How do I know if I'm infected? 
A simple test on your arm can tell if you have the TB germ in your body. A positive TB skin test usually means that you have the TB germ. You may need additional tests such as a chest x-ray or sputum (phlegm) test. 

 
What is the difference between “sleeping” TB and “Active (awake)” TB? 
Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI) is also called “sleeping” TB because the germs will stay asleep as long as your body can fight them off. You may have a positive test for TB but a normal Chest x-ray test if you have “sleeping” TB. You cannot spread it to others, but if you take TB medications there is less chance of waking up the germs. 
 
Active (awake) TB germs are active in the body and can now spread to the lungs or other parts of the body and make you very sick. You have a positive skin test, and may have a positive chest x-ray test and you feel sick. You could give TB to others by coughing, sneezing or shouting and transferring the germs in the air and others breathe it in. 

 
What if I have TB? 
You can take medication to stay healthy. TB can be cured! But if you do not take the medication, TB can make you feel very sick. Even if you feel better after you begin taking the medication, do not stop taking the pills until your doctor or nurse tells you to stop. If you stop taking the medication too soon, the TB germ can come back and be very hard to fight off.



 

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