If you have been diagnosed with tuberculosis, you may wish to discuss the following five questions with your physician:
1. My report says Lung TB – positive. What exactly does this mean?
A positive report of tuberculosis means that your lungs have been infected by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the infection is in the active state. The report specifies that your lungs are the affected part of your body. Tuberculosis can also occur in the kidneys, brain, spine, the lymphatic system, the genitor-urinary system, etc.
2. Besides the bad cough and weight loss that I have been experiencing, what other symptoms should I be watching out for?
That depends on the type, primary affected organ, and stage of your tuberculosis condition. However, common symptoms that could present themselves are:
• Low grade fever
• Blood in cough
• Night sweats
• Loss of appetite
• Chest pain or pain of the affected organ
• Blood in urine (if the kidneys are affected)
3. I have undergone a blood test, are there any other tests I will be expected to take?
This depends on what your doctor sees fit after going through your report and speaking with you about your symptoms, the time since you have been experiencing them, medical history, physical examination, etc. However, some of the common diagnostic tests (which may be used in combination) for TB are:
• Testing or doing the culture for sputum, phlegm or cough production. This is a slow method and the results take fairly long to come back(four to eight weeks).
• A tuberculin skin test called The Mantoux test. Though this is not a perfect tool it is used along with other support tests. A small amount of the chemical PPD tuberculin is injected just below the surface of your arm skin. Within two days a small ballooning of skin can be seen at the site as a reaction to the injected chemical. If it is a large bubble balloon it indicates the presence of the TB bacteria in the system.
• A chest X-ray, or CT scan is ordered after the skin test gives a positive result. The imaging may show white patches or spots on the lung showing where the immune system has tried to wall-off the TB bacteria.