Signs and Symptoms of Tuberculosis in Adults

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Tuberculosis (TB) kills an estimated two million people each year, according to the Mayo Clinic. The active disease affects the lungs and is spread easily from person to person via small water droplets expelled during coughing. The disease is most widespread in Africa and Asia and can be treated with four primary medications that may include isoniazid, rifampin, ethambutol and pyrazinamide. Identifying the disease’s symptoms can lead to early treatment, preventing later complications.

TB is an active disease that affects the lungs and is spread easily from person to person via coughing
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Persistent Cough

The most common symptom of TB is coughing. Coughing that lasts for three weeks or more or includes bloody sputum is often associated with the disease. Those who are infected with latent TB will not have symptoms nor will they be contagious unless the active form of the disease develops. When coughing begins during the active form of the disease, the infected person will expel droplets from the mouth that may come into contact with others and infect them.

The most common symptom of TB is coughing that lasts for three weeks or more or includes bloody sputum
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Chest Pain

Excessive coughing as well as infection in the lungs can cause serious chest pain that is especially noticeable when coughing or breathing. This pain can be considered a sign of the disease if it has not already been diagnosed.

Excessive coughing as well as infection in the lungs can cause serious chest pain that is especially noticeable when coughing or breathing
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Loss of Appetite and Weight

People with tuberculosis may not feel the desire to eat. A loss of appetite may contribute to weight loss, but unexplained weight loss may also be due to the existence of an active TB infection. Significant weight loss for no apparent reason should be considered a health concern and a sign that a TB infection is present.

Significant weight loss for no apparent reason should be considered a health concern and a sign that a TB infection is present
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Fatigue and Weakness

A general feeling of fatigue and weakness can be an early sign of tuberculosis. If a persistent cough is accompanied by the desire to sleep or be inactive, this could be a cause of TB concern, especially if the affected person has been traveling outside of the United States in an area where TB is a problem.

A general feeling of fatigue and weakness can be an early sign of TB
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Fever and Chills

As is the case with most infections, the body’s immune response is to raise the temperature of the body. This results in a fever. The fever itself can become a health hazard if it rises too high but is generally the body’s way of fighting the disease. The sensation of chills will often come with a fever. Those with TB may feel cold all the time despite the fact that their body temperature is elevated and the room feels normal to everyone else.

As is the case with most infections, the body's immune response is to raise the temperature of the body which results in a fever - if the fever becomes too high, see a doctor right away
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