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Tuberculosis Symptoms & Diagnosis


TB causes no symptoms in most patients. In others it is fatal. The bacteria lie dormant in the lungs. Bacteria may remain there permanently without causing illness. During this time, the infected person cannot spread TB to others. The infection spreads once the bacteria are active.

If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to TB. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:

  • Severe cough that lasts more than two weeks
  • Coughing up blood and sputum (mucus from deep in the lungs)
  • Pain in the chest
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite


A skin test is used to screen for TB. A small amount of tuberculin test fluid is injected into the skin of the lower part of your arm. The test is positive if, after 2-3 days, a raised, firm welt appears at the injection site. The welt is 10 millimeters (mm) or greater in diameter (5 mm or 15 mm under some situations).

A positive test means you were exposed to TB, even if you never became ill. People at high risk for TB should have a skin test regularly. Also, a new blood test is available to screen for TB. Talk to your doctor to learn more.

If you have symptoms or signs of active TB, your doctor may order the following:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Samples of your sputum to be tested for the bacterium

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2022 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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