Tuberculosis

TB

If you experience the symptoms of tuberculosis, our respiratory consultants are able to diagnose and treat you

About

Tuberculosis is a serious bacterial infection that is contagious between people. If a person has TB they can pass it onto you by sneezing or coughing. You may inhale their germs and the infection then passes into your lungs. If you experience symptoms such as persistent coughing, our respiratory experts can help to diagnose and treat you.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of tuberculosis icon plus

    Symptoms you may experience if you have TB include:

    • persistent coughing that also produces phlegm
    • high temperature/fever
    • night sweats
    • fatigue
    • loss of appetite/weight loss
    • swellings in the neck/glands
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and help to make a diagnosis. Tests we offer to diagnose tuberculosis include:

    • chest X-ray to examine any visible difference in your lungs
    • CT, MRI or ultrasound scan to assess other parts of the body that may be affected
    • urine and blood tests
    • samples of your phlegm or tissue in the affected area
    • inspection of your lungs with an endoscope (long, thin tube with a camera on the end)
    • Mantoux test where a substance called PPD tuberculin is inserted into your forearm
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    In most cases, TB can be treated with a strong course of antibiotics. However depending on the type of TB there are different medications and treatment options available. Antibiotics for pulmonary TB are taken over a six month period. This is the same for extrapulmonary TB, though you may also be prescribed a corticosteroid injection for the first few weeks. This is to help reduce swelling. For latent TB in older patients, your consultant may prescribe a combination of antibiotics for three months. This is because too strong a course of antibiotics may cause liver damage.

Types of tuberculosis

Pulmonary TB

Pulmonary TB affects the lungs and is caused by the bacteria mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is very contagious but is treated with antibiotics.

Extrapulmonary TB

Extrapulmonary TB also begins in the lungs. However it may also spread to other area of the body, such as your skin, joints and abdomen.

Latent TB

Latent TB occurs when you've been infected by the bacteria but aren't showing symptoms. Diagnosis is therefore important in controlling the condition.

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Consultant in theatres

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020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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