Tuberculosis, commonly known as TB, is a bacterial infection that can spread through the lymph nodes and bloodstream to any organ in your body. It is most often found in the lungs. Most people who are exposed to TB never develop symptoms because the bacteria can live in an inactive form in the body. But if the immune system weakens, such as in people with HIV or elderly adults, TB bacteria can become active. In their active state, TB bacteria cause death of tissue in the organs they infect. Active...
Exacerbations are often linked to a lung infection that results from a virus or bacteria, like a cold or some other illness. Spending time in smoggy or dirty air can also make your symptoms get worse quickly.
Don’t ignore the warning signs. If you don’t get to a doctor ASAP, you could wind up in the hospital or lose some of your lung function.
Call your doctor if you have one or more of the following symptoms. If you have medications (like antibiotics or oral steroids) at home, he’ll tell you when and how to use them. He can also let you know whether you need to go to the hospital for quicker treatment.
1. Shortness of breath. You feel like you can’t get enough air. You might notice it when you’re at rest or during light physical activity.
2. Noisy breathing. Your breath makes strange noises. Wheezing suggests mucus or pus is blocking your airways. Gurgling or rattling means fluid in your lungs.
3. Worry. When you’re not getting enough air, it’s easy to feel anxious or panicked. You tense your muscles, which makes it even harder to breathe.
4. Irregular breathing. You feel like you have to use your chest muscles to breathe instead of your diaphragm. Your breathing gets uneven. Sometimes your chest moves a lot faster; sometimes it’s much slower.
5. Cough. It’s more severe or frequent than usual. It could be dry or bring up yellow, green, or bloody phlegm. It gets worse when you lie down -- so much that you have to sit in a chair to sleep.
6. Changes in skin or nail color. You see a bluish tint around your lips or notice that your nails seem blue or purple. Your skin looks yellow or gray.
7. Trouble sleeping and eating. You can’t get to sleep, and you don’t feel like having food.
8. Can't talk. You're unable to get any words out. You have to use hand gestures to let someone know something is wrong with you.
9. Early morning headaches. You start the day with a throbbing head, because low oxygen levels cause a buildup of carbon dioxide in your blood.
10. Swollen ankles or legs or belly pain. These symptoms are linked to problems with your heart or lungs.