Tuberculosis - symptoms and early signs

Depending on the location, individual characteristics of the organism and the form of tuberculosis, the symptoms can be very diverse. If the symptoms of tuberculosis in adults are detected early, then the disease responds well to treatment. Late, neglected pulmonary tuberculosis is often incurable.

Tuberculosis - what is it? Infectious (capable of being transmitted from a sick person to a healthy one) is a disease caused by a specific pathogen, bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium. In the 17th and 18th centuries, during the period of urbanization and the rapid development of industry, the incidence of tuberculosis in Europe became an epidemic. In 1650, 20% of deaths in England and Wales were due to tuberculosis.

According to WHO information, about 2 billion people, a third of the world's total population, are infected with tuberculosis. Currently, this disease annually affects 9 million people worldwide, of whom 3 million die from its complications.

Causative agent

The most common pathogen, the Koch wand, is a bacterium discovered in 1882 by a German microbiologist, Nobel laureate Robert Koch. They are very tenacious, perfectly resist the effects of aggressive factors and do not disintegrate even when using modern disinfectants.

The typical site of infection is the lungs, but there are also tuberculosis of the skin, bones, eyes, lymphatic, urogenital, digestive, nervous systems.

How tuberculosis is transmitted

It is important to remember that the main sources of tuberculosis infection are infected people. Transmission occurs by inhalation of air with pathogens scattered in it. The main ways how the disease is transmitted:

  1. Airborne droplets are the main mode of transmission. Mycobacteria are released into the air with sputum particles, saliva when talking, coughing or sneezing a patient with an open form (a form in which the pathogens are released into the environment) of tuberculosis;
  2. Contact-household - when using dishes, personal hygiene items, linen of a sick person;
  3. Alimentary (food) - in the use of products derived from infected animals;
  4. Intrauterine - from a sick mother to the fetus during pregnancy or during childbirth.

The carriage of tuberculosis is not contagious, the presence of a human tuberculosis infection in the absence of signs of the disease itself is not tuberculosis. When a person develops active tuberculosis, the symptoms (cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss, etc.) can appear mild for many months.

Pulmonary tuberculosis: the first signs

There are certain first signs that may suggest the development of pulmonary tuberculosis in adults:

  • weakness;
  • lethargy;
  • dizziness;
  • poor appetite or lack of it;
  • apathy;
  • poor sleep;
  • night sweats;
  • pallor;
  • weight loss;
  • low-grade body temperature.

The presence of these symptoms is a significant reason for visiting a doctor and further examination for pulmonary tuberculosis. If a person misses this point, then symptoms from the respiratory organs join this symptom:

  • cough - most often with sputum;
  • dyspnea;
  • hemoptysis - from streaks of blood in sputum to significant pulmonary hemorrhage;
  • chest pain, aggravated by coughing.

The last 2 symptoms are signs of complicated forms of the disease and require the immediate start of treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis: Symptoms

In tuberculosis, it is important not to miss the first symptoms when the chance to cure the disease remains high.

However, there are some nuances, because pulmonary tuberculosis is often a long time without noticeable symptoms, and is discovered quite by accident, for example, during fluorography.

The following signs are characteristic of most forms of pulmonary tuberculosis:

  1. The general condition of the person - adults with limited forms of tuberculosis complain of increased fatigue, weakness, especially expressed in the morning, is also characterized by a decrease in efficiency.
  2. Cough. Dry to wet with noticeable sputum separation. It can be cheesy, purulent. When joining blood - takes the form of "rusty" to the impurity of the liquid, unchanged (hemoptysis).
  3. General appearance: patients lose up to 15 kilograms in weight, so they look thin, face is pale, facial features are sharpened and therefore it seems more beautiful, there is a blush on the cheeks against the background of pale skin.
  4. Dyspnea. It is caused by a decrease in the respiratory surface of the lungs during inflammation and hardening (scarring).
  5. Increase in body temperature: with limited forms, the temperature rise is insignificant (37.5-38 C), but prolonged.
  6. The temperature rises in the evening or at night, at night there is abundant sweating, chills.
  7. Chest pain. Joined in advanced stages of the disease and the transition of the tuberculous process on the pleura.

Lesions of other organs are accompanied by signs that at first glance are indistinguishable from the symptoms of other common ailments, so it makes no sense to consider them as part of this material.

Symptoms in children

In childhood tuberculosis develops a little differently than in adults. This is due to the underdeveloped immune system of the child. The disease progresses much faster and leads to the saddest consequences.

These signs should alert the parents:

  • cough lasting more than 20 days;
  • prolonged temperature rise;
  • loss of appetite;
  • fast fatiguability;
  • noticeable weight loss;
  • reduced attention entailing a lag in school;
  • signs of intoxication.

In general, the symptoms of tuberculosis in children, as in an adult, depend on the form of the disease and on the localization of the infection process.


Such effects of pulmonary tuberculosis are distinguished:

  1. Pneumothorax - the accumulation of air in the pleural cavity - the space surrounding the lung.
  2. Respiratory failure. With massive tuberculous damage to the lungs, the volume of effectively working lungs is reduced, which leads to a decrease in blood oxygen saturation.
  3. Heart failure. Usually accompanies respiratory failure.
  4. Amyloidosis of the internal organs.
  5. Pulmonary hemorrhage. May develop when a vessel breaks down in the lungs as a result of tuberculous inflammation.


Prevention of tuberculosis is the timely passage of preventive studies, primarily fluorography, as well as the identification of persons with the open form of the disease and their isolation.

Vaccination (BCG vaccine) - is performed on the 5-7th day of life, revaccination is performed for children aged 7, 12 and 17 years, as well as for adults under 30 years old, for whom the Mantoux test has a negative or questionable result.


Among the effective diagnostic methods focused on the detection of tuberculosis infection include:

  1. Chest X-ray;
  2. Mantoux test;
  3. Blood test for tuberculosis;
  4. X-ray of the lungs;
  5. Sowing of washing water of the stomach and bronchi, sputum and detachable tumors on the skin.

The most modern method is PCR. This is a DNA diagnosis when the patient’s sputum is taken for analysis. The result can be found in 3 days, the reliability - 95-100%.

Tuberculosis Treatment

Treatment of this disease should be started immediately after its detection and be carried out continuously and for a long time.

The basis of tuberculosis treatment is the use of anti-tuberculosis drugs (chemotherapy). Allocate the main and reserve anti-tuberculosis drugs. The main ones are isoniazid, ethambutol, rifampicin, pyrazinamide, streptomycin. Reserve - kanamycin, protionamide, amikacin, ethionamide, cycloserine, PAS, capreomycin and others.

In addition to chemotherapy, the program for treating pulmonary tuberculosis includes:

  • observance of a high-calorie diet;
  • correction of anemia, hypovitaminosis, leukopenia;
  • use of glucocorticoids according to indications;
  • sanatorium rest;
  • surgical treatment (removal of the affected internal organ or its lobe, drainage of the cavity, etc.).

Treatment of drug-sensitive tuberculosis takes at least 6 months, and sometimes takes up to 2 years. Evaluation of the effectiveness of treatment is carried out monthly according to the results of the detection of the pathogen in the patient’s sputum. To inhibit infection, therapy must be carried out systematically, without pauses, then tuberculosis will not be able to progress.

Watch the video: 5 Things to Know About TB (February 2020).


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