What does the term “TB infection” mean?
“TB infection” means that the bacteria
that causes TB is inside the body but is kept inactive.
Our body’s defense (the immune system) cannot
kill the germ, but it can prevent the germ from
doing damage to the body. This means the patient
has the bacteria but has no symptoms. However,
should the immune system become weakened, the TB
germ can cause active disease.
What does the term “TB disease” mean?
TB disease occurs when the body’s immune
system no longer keeps the TB germ under control.
This weakening of the immune system can occur with
aging, illnesses like AIDS, or drug and alcohol
abuse. With the onset of active TB disease, the
patient begins to experience the symptoms associated
with TB such as cough, fever, night sweats, weight
loss, and lack of appetite.
What are the risk factors for TB?
Some persons are at higher risk for developing
TB, and also more likely to have a complicated
course of both disease and treatment. The risk
- Being HIV positive or having AIDS
- Having Hepatitis,
B and C
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
It is important for those
with risk factors to have a PPD skin test
and have it read and recorded.
What is the treatment
TB is a curable disease. Antibiotics are
very effective in killing the TB germ. The treatment
for TB infection and TB disease. Isoniazid (INH)
can be used alone for persons with TB infection,
but multiple antibiotics must be given to those
persons with active TB disease. This is to prevent
the development of drug-resistant TB.
How important is it that ALL of the prescribed
medication is taken for the entire period?
Very Important. Taking prescribed medicines for
the duration of treatment, even if the patient
feels better, is the cornerstone of successful
treatment. Taking the medicine for a portion of
the specified time only, even if the patient is
being treated for TB infection, can cause drug-resistant
TB organisms to develop.
What are the complications of TB?
Most TB infections involve the lungs, but without
treatment, TB germs can spread from the lungs to
other parts of the body. This spread makes people
very ill and can cause death. Early detection and
treatment are very important in preventing the
spread of TB from the lungs to other parts of the
body and the spread from person to person.
Can you get TB from the PPD skin test?
You CANNOT get TB from the PPD skin test. The test is an indicator that
the body has exposed to the TB germ before. A positive test is recognized
by a raised area around the PPD injection site.
See Frequently Asked Questions