Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly contagious infection. It typically attacks the lungs, but once contracted, will eventually spread to the spine and even the brain. The bacteria that causes the infection is airborne. It is called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. 

There are two types of tuberculosis. Latent TB and Active TB. Latent TB occurs in people that are in good health. If your immune system is ‘high’ and functioning properly, you might not show any signs or symptoms of TB. This, however, does not mean that Latent TB cannot be spread just the same. If you have Latent TB, it can still be dangerous to those around you who have weakened immune systems or who are in poor health. Active TB is the form that exhibits symptoms. This is the kind that ‘makes you sick’.

What Are Some Signs and Symptoms to Look for?

Some jobs will require that you get a PPD test. A PPD test is to ensure that you are not infected with TB before you go to work. Some signs or symptoms that would warrant a TB test even if it is not required of you are listed below:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing that lasts for three weeks or more
  • Coughing up blood
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

As stated before, tuberculosis is an airborne contagion. Basically, TB is spread like the common cold or flu. If you are around others who have TB or are exposed to a group that is considered to be at high risk, be cautious about the same things that you would be if you were around someone with the flu. Avoid being near coughing, sneezing, and the breath of those who may have it. 

How do I Know if I Have it? – PPD Test Results

If you are exhibiting symptoms of TB, or if you are required to get tested for work, the process of diagnosis is fairly simple. Your doctor or his or her nurse will first swab your arm with alcohol to sterilize it, just as they would before a flu shot. Then, you will be administered a small shot containing PPD (Purified Protein Derivative) under the top-most layer of skin. You will then be asked to return to determine whether or not you have had a reaction to the PPD that would indicate a TB infection.

What Will Happen if I Test Positive for TB?

Remember when we talked about Latent and Active TB? The two forms of TB are treated slightly differently. And yes, have no fear, TB is treatable. If your immune system is healthy and you are not exhibiting symptoms of TB, you most likely have Latent TB. If this is the case, your doctor will most likely prescribe medication designed to kill the bacteria causing the disease. The treatment of Latent TB is much shorter than that of Active TB.

If you have Active TB, this means that the bacteria are allowed (by your immune system) to multiply and cause problems. The treatment of active TB is a little more rigorous than that of Latent TB. Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to be taken over the course of six months. Some cases may even require twelve months or more of antibiotics.

Tuberculosis is treatable and is more easily treated if you are able to catch it early. If you feel like you might have TB or if you have been exposed to TB or people at high risk, the best thing to do is to get tested as soon as possible. If you want to know more about PPD testing or want to set up a tuberculosis test, please visit Soteria Screening’s website for more information.

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