Symptoms of tuberculosis are brought on by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which attacks the lungs, brain, bones and kidneys of its victims. The seriousness of these symptoms depends on the stage of the disease. Tuberculosis can be spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. When an infected person does this, the bacterium is shot into the air and if it is breathed in by someone else, they can catch this very contagious illness.
Stages of tuberculosis
There are several stages of the tuberculosis disease. When someone first develops tuberculosis, it is called latent and it exists in their body but they aren’t yet showing symptoms of tuberculosis due to the fact their immune system is fighting it off successfully. In this stage, the disease is not contagious and the person doesn’t even realize they are infected.
A few weeks later, the bacterium in their bodies becomes stronger and the immune system can’t fight off the tuberculosis and it enters the acute stage. This may be due to another illness weakening their system and allowing the symptoms of tuberculosis to be active in their body. These will include things such as chest pain, coughing up blood, and excessive coughing for at least three weeks, tiredness, chills, fever, loss of appetite, night sweats, and loss of weight.
Rare versions of tuberculosis
In some cases, the acute stage of tuberculosis gets into several organs of the body besides the lungs and it attacks the brain, bones, kidneys and spinal cord. If this occurs, it is called disseminated tuberculosis. Symptoms of tuberculosis of this type can involve muscle spasms, stiff neck, bad headache, problems breathing, and a change in their mental state or consciousness.
Untreated Tuberculosis Can Cause Major Complications
If someone has tuberculosis and it is untreated, it may develop into a life threatening situation. The symptoms of tuberculosis that becomes more complicated can include arthritis, damage to the lungs or other organs, mid-chest inflammation, meningitis, a build-up of fluid in the lungs, or an infection in the lymph nodes.
Risk factors of tuberculosis
There are certain risk factors that can make it more likely that a person will catch tuberculosis and show the symptoms of tuberculosis. These include being around someone who has an active tuberculosis infection, being a health care worker treating people with tuberculosis, having diabetes, having AIDs or HIV or another immune impaired condition, using illegal IV drugs, lack of medical care, kidney disease, being in areas that are high risk such as Asia or Africa, malnutrition, living in crowded conditions, taking anti-rejection medication after having an organ transplant.
In order to reduce that risk, if you have been in that sort of situation, you should get a screening test to diagnose to see if you have tuberculosis, and if so, be sure to complete the entire treatment prescribed by your doctor. If not, then be sure to wear a mask if you must remain in the area of infection. If you still develop the symptoms of tuberculosis, be sure to see your doctor immediately.