Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease that can affect anyone at any age. It is sperad through the air from person to person. TB is not spread by shaking someone's hand, sharing someone's drink or by touching contaminated surfaces. When the germ is breathed in, it goes into the lungs. It may stay in the lungs or travel to other parts of the body. Not everyone that breathes in the germ will get sick. People that are ill from TB have TB disease.
TB generally affects the lungs, referred to as pulmonary TB. Other body parts can be affected; vital organs, lymph nodes and bones. This is referred to as extrapulmonary TB.
Signs and symptoms of TB include the following:
- Bad cough that lasts longer than three weeks
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood or sputum
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Night sweats
Those that have been exposed to TB by breathing in the germ but are not sick and cannot spread it to others, are said to have Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI).
Individuals with LTBI are at a higher risk of developing TB disease if they have been exposed to TB within the past two years, have HIV or diabetes or are abusing drugs and alcohol.
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