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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

Lung Diseases Overview

Lung diseases are some of the most common medical conditions in the world. Tens of millions of people suffer from lung disease in the U.S. Smoking, infections, and genetics are responsible for most lung diseases. The lungs are part of a complex apparatus, expanding and relaxing thousands of times each day to bring in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Lung disease can result from problems in any part of this system.

Read the Lung Diseases Overview 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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