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Tuberculosis: Symptoms and Treatment Essay (Article)

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Updated: May 5th, 2022

Definition of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a communicable disease that results from the action of germs on the human body. The causative agent is referred to as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It causes infection to the lungs although in other instances it could affect the brain or the kidneys of the victim (Dyer, 2010). The development of the disease is gradual with only an eighth of those infected with the mild form of the disease developing secondary infection. Once infected, however, a tuberculin skin test that determines presence of the bacterium will always be positive for the entire life of the individual (Schiffman, 2012).. The period of progression from the primary to the secondary stage could take up to two years. Nevertheless, the period of reactivation cold be accelerated by the presence of other critical ailments such a diabetes mellitus or HIV infection (Finer, 2009).

Symptoms of the disease

Some of the most common symptoms of TB include a general feeling of sickness and weakness that is often marked by the loss of weight, rising body temperature and heavy night sweats (Centers for disease controls and treatment, 2012). Once the lung infection has set in, a rough cough accompanied by chest pains could result. For critical cases, the cough could be dotted with spots of blood. Depending on the area of infection, the above symptoms could vary from patient to patient.

Spreading process

A cough or sneeze from a person infected with TB especially in areas of the breathing system such as lungs or throat releases TB germs into the air. In other instances, speaking or singing could also release the germs into the atmosphere. The surrounding environment influences the duration taken by the germs before they die. Once a healthy person inhales this air, they acquire the TB infection. This kind of infection is referred to as the latent TB infection. It refers to a situation in which TB germs are present in a person’s body but remain inactive. These people are not infected and therefore do not exhibit any symptoms of the disease. Moreover, there is a zero chance of these people spreading the disease (Scott, 2009). At this point, prescription of treatment from a medical professional is necessary to prevent the development of the disease in future. It is due to this reason that persons who have spent time with a patient infected with latent TB infection do not need to be tested, as there is no risk of infection (Samandari, 2011). However, spending time with someone infected with the TB disease would necessitate a test to alleviate the risk of developing the same disease in future.

TB test

In case one portrays the symptoms above having been exposed to the TB germs, two tests can be applied to determine whether TB germs are present in their body (Wouk, 2009). The first is the Mantoux tuberculin skin test. Under this, a small fluid known as tuberculin is injected in the lower skin section of the arm (Chatman, 2008). The reaction on the arm within the next forty-eight or seventy-two hours determines the presence or absence of the TB germs (Vassali, 2009). Alternatively, the QuantiFERON- TB Gold test could be applied. This test is conducted on a person’s blood to evaluate one’s immune reaction to the presence of the TB germs. Positive results indicate the presence of the TB germs in the person’s body (Ting, & Florsheim, 2007). However, the overall disease progression cannot be assessed by these methods. A chest X-ray inspection or sputum may often be necessary for this to be determined (Kabra, S. & Seth V, 2006).

To reduce the chances of acquiring the TB infection, Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine is administered (Spiegelburg, 2007). Nonetheless, it is vital to note that this vaccine does not completely alleviate the chances of acquiring the disease and could result in a positive TB test (Blackwell, 2003). For those with latent infection, the decision to kill the germs and prevent possible future development of the disease is dependent on one’s chances of disease progression (Lawn et al., 2007). People with medical complications such as HIV infections are often at a higher risk of disease progression. This is due to a weakened immune system (Walcott, 2009).

Treatment of TB

The known treatment for TB is the administration of drugs for a period of one year or six months. Unlike other forms of medication for other diseases, it is completely necessary that individuals complete the entire dosage prescribed (Bakina, 1998). Inconsistent consumption of the drugs could result in a re-infection in the future that invalidates the first treatment process (Zablocki, 2005). Moreover, incorrect taking of the drugs could result in the active germs becoming resistant to treatment. Resistance of the germs to treatment complicates the treatment process and increases the costs incurred (George, 2011). Therefore, infected individuals should ensure they do not fall victim of either of the two situations. To ensure this, some hospitals assign medical stuff to TB patients who ensure the prescribed medication is followed precisely (Yancey, 2008). This is termed as directly observed therapy (DOT). It is meant to help the patient recover from the disease in the quickest time possible (Finer, 2009). This will not only be beneficial to the patient but I will also reduce the incidences of spread of the disease to other people in future (Maluniu, 2011).



Chatman, J. (2008). Tuberculosis: Arresting Everyone’s Enemy. New York, NY: Joint Commission Resources.

Dyer, C. A. (2010). Tuberculosis: Biographies of Disease. Toronto: ABC-CLIO.

Finer, K. (2009). Tuberculosis: Deadly Diseases and Epidemics Series. New York, NY: Facts on File.

Kabra, S. & Seth V. (2006). Essentials of Tuberculosis in children. New Haven: Jaypee Brothers Publishers.

Kabra, S. & Seth V. (2006). Essentials of Tuberculosis in children. New Haven: Jaypee Brothers Publishers.

Spiegelburg, D. (2007). New Topics in Tuberculosis Research. New York, NY: Nova Publishers.

Vassalli, A. (2009). The Costs and Cost-Effectiveness of Tuberculosis Control. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University press.

Wouk, H. (2009). Tuberculosis: Health Alert. New York: Marshall Cavendish.

Yancey, D. (2008). Tuberculosis: Twenty-first century medical library. New York, NY: Nova Publishers.

Internet sources

Ingrid, K. (2009). Web.

Maluniu, D. (2011). Web.

Schiffman., G.(2012). Tuberculosis overview. Web.

Scott., K. (2009). Web.

Unpublished Manuscripts

Blackwell, E. (2003). Understanding tuberculosis. Unpublished manuscript.

George, F. (2011). BCG administration and Tuberculosis. Unpublished manuscript, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Ting, J. Y.,& Florsheim, P.(2007). Infectious diseases and their symptoms. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Walcott, B. (2009). Tuberculosis, symptoms and treatment. Manuscript submitted for publication.


Bakina, A. (1998, Mar 22). Tuberculosis remains a concern of Russia. ITAR – TASS News Wire, 6(2):53-64.

.Lawn, S. D., Bangani, N., Vogt, M., Bekker, L., Badri, M., Ntobongwana, M., &… Wood, R. (2007). Utility of interferon-γ ELISPOT assay responses in highly tuberclosis-exposed patients with advanced HIV infection in South Africa. BMC Infectious Diseases, 7(1), 99-109.

Samandari, T., Agizew, T. B., Nyirenda, S., Tedla, Z., Sibanda, T., Shang, N. (2011). 6-month versus 36-month isoniazid preventive treatment for tuberculosis in adults with HIV infection in Botswana: A randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet, 377(9777), 1588-98.

.Zablocki, E. (2005). DRUG CLASS OVERVIEW: Tuberculosis often curable with six-month treatment, observation. Managed Healthcare Executive, 15(7), 28-29.

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