What is tuberculosis (TB)?
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infection caused by bacteria. Bacteria grow best in parts of the body that have lots of blood and oxygen. That is why it is most often found in the lungs. This is called “pulmonary TB.” TB can also spread to other parts of the body.
What are the symptoms of tuberculosis?
Most of the time when people are first infected with TB, they do not even know they have it. This is because the disease is usually mild. People do not have symptoms unless the disease becomes active.
- A cough that brings up thick, cloudy, and sometimes bloody mucus from the lungs. This cough will last for more than 2 weeks;
- Tiredness and weight loss;
- Night sweats and a fever;
- A rapid heartbeat;
- Swelling in the neck;
- Shortness of breath and chest pain.
How is tuberculosis spread?
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. When a person who has TB breathes, coughs, or laughs, the bacteria is put into the air.
Who is more likely to have tuberculosis?
You are more likely to get TB if you:
- Have HIV or another illness that weakens your immune system;
- Have regular contact with someone who has active TB, such as living in the same house as them;
- Live or work in crowded places where people may have TB, such as prisons, nursing homes, or homeless shelters;
- Abuse drugs or alcohol;
- Travel to or were born in places where untreated TB is common, such as Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Russia.
How is tuberculosis treated?
There are several medicines you can take to treat TB. Treatment is often successful, but it is a long process. It takes about 6 to 9 months to treat the disease.
For more information on free tests, medicines, check-ups, and treatment for tuberculosis:
- New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: “Tuberculosis Control"