Symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis

Symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis and how to identify them

Tuberculosis is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world, and it is estimated that a third of the world’s population is a carrier of the TB germ. Each year, approximately ten million people become ill with active TB and about one and a half million die from TB. Most of the diseases and deaths occur in Africa and Asia, but now it is uncommon and very few infected people get it. Below we will show the symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis, and how to deal with it.

What causes tuberculosis and how does it spread?

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria within the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, including “M. bovis.” This bacterium grows very slowly but is also very long-lived and, under favorable conditions, can survive for years. In the human body, it can lie dormant throughout a person’s life. Latent TB is never contagious. Tuberculosis spreads in the respiratory tract through vomiting as an airborne infection. Tuberculosis in other organs is not contagious. It is difficult to determine the incubation period for tuberculosis. Less than 10% of those infected develop the disease later in life. From the time of infection, it usually takes at least several months before a person becomes ill. The risk of contracting tuberculosis is greatest during the first two years after infection, but the risk of contracting the disease remains small throughout life. Tuberculosis is a worldwide disease that mainly affects younger adults, but also children and the elderly.

Symptoms and complications

Symptoms and complications
Symptoms and complications

The most common home for TB is the lungs, but most organs, such as the lymph nodes, bones, and intestines, can be affected. Risk factors for TB are a weakened immune system, for example HIV infection, medicines that weaken the immune system, diabetes or old age. In these groups of patients, there is an increased risk of rapid development of serious diseases. Especially young children who have been exposed to TB infection should be examined without delay because there is a risk of meningitis, which can be life-threatening. In people with a severely weakened immune system (eg in untreated HIV infections) who are exposed to tuberculosis infection, there is a risk of rapid and serious illness. These people also reactivate a latent (dormant) infection more easily. The classic general symptoms of tuberculosis are:

  • Fever and night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • exhaustion.

For pulmonary tuberculosis, prolonged coughing for more than three weeks is typical with or without expectoration of mucus and sometimes blood.

Diagnosis and treatment

Suspicion of pulmonary tuberculosis is based on the patient’s medical history and x-rays. To ensure the diagnosis of tuberculosis in all its forms, bacteriological diagnostics are performed (microscopy, PCR and culture). Cultivation is more sensitive, but Cultivation responses can take several weeks. Results of tubercle bacillus by microscopy and/or a patient’s cough test culture indicate that the patient has potentially infectious tuberculosis because it is then present in the airways. A positive tuberculin reaction (PPD) cannot distinguish between latent or active TB but further investigation is required to rule out active TB. Nowadays, there are also immunological methods (IGRA – Interferon gamma release assay) to measure the cellular immune response after exposure to tuberculosis bacteria. With this test, in the event of a positive reaction to “PPD”, the underlying infection can be differentiated from the vaccination. Treatment usually begins with four drugs, which after two months is usually reduced to two preparations. In general, you only need to be on sick leave for a short time. In order for the infection to heal, it is important that the full treatment period of at least six months is completed. If the bacterial strain is less sensitive to any antibiotic, the treatment time may be significantly longer. When treatment is complete, the risk of recurrence is very small. It is also important that the treatment be taken as prescribed to counter the development of resistance.


The BCG vaccine essentially protects young children from particularly dangerous forms of tuberculosis. Vaccination of adults is no longer recommended. Since the mid-1970s, the BCG vaccine has not been included in the national childhood immunization program. Vaccination is now offered in Sweden only to particularly vulnerable groups. This applies primarily to children in immigrant families from countries with a high incidence of tuberculosis and to children with a planned longer stay in areas with a high incidence of tuberculosis.

Symptoms of tuberculosis in the neck

Symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis
Symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis

It is a disease in which tuberculous bacilli are infected in the lymph nodes. Mycobacterium tuberculosis can easily infect the lungs, so a lung scan is recommended when lymph node tuberculosis is found. The main symptoms of neck tuberculosis are fever, dullness, redness of the skin, and swollen lymph nodes, but often there are no symptoms at all. The lymph nodes are punctured with a needle, the contents are collected, and an antacid test is performed to make the diagnosis. At the same time, x-ray and tomography examinations of the lungs are performed. Several anti-tuberculosis drugs are used in treatment. If you are concerned about tuberculosis of the lymph nodes or would like treatment for it, please consult the Department of Internal Medicine or Infectious Dermatology.

Main symptoms:

  • Fever
  • dullness
  • You get tired easily

Lymph nodal tuberculosis:

  • Many without symptoms
  • atelectasis (breaking of the lungs)
  • Pneumonia

Tuberculous cervical lymph node:

  • pain
  • The neck is red and swollen
  • There is a hole in the skin
  • Pus comes out of the open hole

Symptoms of tuberculosis in children

Symptoms of tuberculosis in the neck
Symptoms of tuberculosis in the neck

It can be transmitted within the family, at school, or in crowded schools. One of the most common symptoms of tuberculosis in children depends primarily on the location and classification of tuberculosis. There are no symptoms of latent TB. Pulmonary TB has symptoms similar to those of pulmonary TB in adults, such as cough, fever, bloody sputum, weight loss, and night sweats. In cases of tuberculosis other than the lungs, lymphadenitis is common in children, neckand there are many lymph nodes in the lungs. of the lymph nodes swelling etc. can be seen. In tuberculous meningitis, decreased vitality, impaired consciousness, cranial nerve paralysis, and symptoms such as convulsions (such as strange eye movements or double vision) may occur. Miliary tuberculosis does not gain or lose weight, fever persists of unknown cause. malaise In addition to non-specific symptoms such as loss of energy and loss of appetite, respiratory symptoms such as coughing and hyperventilation if the organ affected by the infection is the lungs, abdominal pain and diarrhea if gastrointestinal symptoms appear. Intestinal tuberculosis has symptoms such as fever, diarrhoea, bloody stools, weight gain or loss, and abdominal pain.

Tuberculosis symptoms and treatment


During the latent phase, symptoms of tuberculosis do not appear. When active, the patient may experience cough, fever, and other symptoms.

Although tuberculosis only affects the lungs, it can also damage other parts of the body, and they vary

Symptoms of tuberculosis and its treatment depend on the patient and the disease itself. If treatment is neglected, tuberculosis can spread to other parts of the body through blood flow, such as:

  • Bones: The patient may suffer from spine pain and joint destruction.
  • Brain: can lead to meningitis.
  • Liver and kidneys: can impair waste filtration and lead to blood in the urine.
  • Heart: It can impair the heart’s ability to pump blood, which can lead to heart block, a life-threatening disease.

Tuberculosis treatment

Most cases of tuberculosis can be treated with proper medication. The exact type and duration of treatment depends on the person’s age, general health, potential drug resistance, whether the TB is latent or active, and the site of infection (eg, lungs, brain, kidneys). People with latent TB may need only one type of antibiotic, while individuals with active TB (especially MDR-TB) often need a prescription for multiple drugs. Antibiotics generally have to be taken for a relatively long time. The average course of antibiotics takes about 6 months. Tuberculosis medicines can be toxic to the liver, and although side effects are rare, they can be very serious when they do occur. Possible side effects should be discussed with your doctor and include:

  • dark urine
  • Fever
  • jaundice
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting and nausea

And here we have answered the question that is constantly being asked, which is what are the symptoms of tuberculosis? And how it is dealt with.

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