Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious infection that lasts for years if it is not treated. TB usually attacks the lungs, but almost any part of the body can be affected. TB can be cured with medicines. If TB is not treated completely, it damages the lungs and other parts of the body and may be life-threatening. Caregivers are required by law to report all cases of TB to the Department of Health. The Department of Health helps to identify other people who have TB and to protect other people from getting TB.

CAUSES

TB is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is easily spread from person to person (contagious). This can occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing tiny droplets into the air. Another person can then breathe the bacteria into the lungs, causing infection.

SYMPTOMS

  • Cough.

  • Weight loss.

  • Fatigue.

  • Fever.

  • Sweating.

  • Chills.

  • Loss of appetite.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver may perform a skin test. A substance is injected under the skin, and your caregiver will recheck the area in 48 to 72 hours to see how your body reacts. Your caregiver may also use blood tests, chest X-rays, and sputum tests to determine whether you have TB.

TREATMENT

TB is treated with antibiotic medicines. You may need to take antibiotics for 6 to 9 months. Antibiotics commonly given for TB include:

  • Isoniazid.

  • Rifampin.

  • Ethambutol.

  • Pyrazinamide.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better.

  • Keep all follow-up appointments as directed by your caregiver. Regular follow-up visits are required to make sure your medicines are working. Follow-up visits are needed for at least 2 years to make sure the illness remains under control.

  • Tell your caregiver about all of the people you live with or have close contact with. Your caregiver or the Department of Health will contact these people about also being tested for TB.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet.

  • Rest as needed.

  • Until your caregiver says you are no longer contagious:

  • Avoid close contact with others, especially babies and elderly people. They are much more likely to catch TB.

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues properly.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

  • Do not go back to work or school.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have new problems that may be caused by your medicine.

  • You lose your appetite, feel nauseous, or vomit.

  • Your urine becomes dark yellow.

  • Your skin or the white part of your eyes turns a yellowish color.

  • Your symptoms do not go away or get worse.

  • You have a new cough, or your cough lasts longer than 3 to 4 weeks.

  • You keep losing weight.

  • The patient is a baby older than 3 months with a rectal temperature of 100.5° F (38.1° C) or higher for more than 1 day.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have chest pain or cough up blood.

  • You have trouble breathing or shortness of breath.

  • You have a headache or neck stiffness.

  • You have a fever.

  • The patient is a baby older than 3 months with a rectal temperature of 102° F (38.9° C) or higher.

  • The patient is a baby 3 months old or younger with a rectal temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.