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Tuberculosis (TB) - Symptoms

If you have latent tuberculosis (TB), you do not have symptoms and cannot spread the disease to others. If you have active TB, you do have symptoms and can spread the disease to others. Which specific symptoms you have will depend on whether your TB infection is in your lungs (the most common site) or in another part of your body (extrapulmonary TB).

There are other conditions with symptoms similar to TB, such as pneumonia and lung cancer.

Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems

Obstructive and Restrictive Lung Disease

Doctors may classify lung conditions as obstructive lung disease or restrictive lung disease. Obstructive lung diseases include conditions that make it hard to exhale all the air in the lungs. People with restrictive lung disease have difficulty fully expanding their lungs with air. Obstructive and restrictive lung disease share the same main symptom: shortness of breath with exertion.

Read the Obstructive and Restrictive Lung Disease article > >

Symptoms of active TB in the lungs

Symptoms of active TB in the lungs begin gradually and develop over a period of weeks or months. You may have one or two mild symptoms and not even know that you have the disease.

Common symptoms include:

  • A cough with thick, cloudy, and sometimes bloody mucus from the lungs (sputum) for more than 2 weeks.
  • Fever, chills, and night sweats.
  • Fatigue and weakness.
  • Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.
  • Shortness of breath and chest pain.

Symptoms of an active TB infection outside the lungs

Symptoms of TB outside the lungs (extrapulmonary TB) vary widely depending on which area of the body is infected. For example, back pain can be a symptom of TB in the spine, or your neck may get swollen when lymph nodes in the neck are infected.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 04, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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