What does tuberculosis do to the human body?
When a person gets active TB disease, it means TB bacteria are multiplying and attacking the lung(s) or other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, bones, kidney, brain, spine, and even the skin. From the lungs, TB bacteria move through the blood or lymphatic system to different parts of the body.
Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that spread from person to person through microscopic droplets released into the air. This can happen when someone with the untreated, active form of tuberculosis coughs, speaks, sneezes, spits, laughs or sings. Although tuberculosis is contagious, it's not easy to catch.
- TB bacteria most commonly grow in the lungs, and can cause symptoms such as: A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer. Pain in the chest. Coughing up blood or sputum (mucus from deep inside the lungs)
- Tuberculosis (TB) is extremely common worldwide, but not in the United States. Experts suspect one out of every three people in the world is infected with TB. Over 95% of deaths from TB occur in developing countries. Worldwide, the number of TB cases and deaths are slowly declining.
- The occurrence of additional symptoms depends on where the disease has spread beyond the chest and lungs. For example, if TB spreads to the lymph nodes, it can cause swollen glands at the sides of the neck or under the arms. When TB spreads to the bones and joints, it can cause pain and swelling of the knee or hip.
Tuberculosis usually strikes the lungs, and eventually a hole can develop in the patient's lung. Air or fluid may accumulate between the chest wall and lungs, causing the patient to have chest pain and feel short of breath. In some cases, the bacteria may spread through the body and damage other organs.
- If the infection is not treated quickly, the bacteria can travel through the bloodstream to infect other organs and tissues. Sometimes, the bacteria will travel to the meninges, which are the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningeal tuberculosis is also known as tubercular meningitis or TB meningitis.
- But this is not enough. The problem remains one of scale and will. Although TB is treatable and completely curable, there are more than 24,000 new cases of TB around the world daily.
- Lung TB: TB commonly presents as a disease of the lungs. However, the infection can spread via blood from the lungs to all organs in the body. This means that you can develop tuberculosis in the pleura (the covering of the lungs), in the bones, the urinary tract and sexual organs, the intestines and even in the skin.
Updated: 12th November 2019