Skip to content

    Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Understanding Tuberculosis -- Diagnosis and Treatment

    How Do I Know If I Have Tuberculosis?

    The tuberculin skin test (TST) -- also commonly known as the PPD and performed in a doctor's office or health department -- is a reliable detector of TB in most people. It is used to detect TB in individuals at risk for new infection, such as health care workers or close contacts of infected individuals, and those at increased risk due to a weakened immune system. A small amount of liquid purified protein derivative (PPD) from the TB bacteria is injected just under the top layer of skin on your arm. After two to three days, a doctor or nurse will evaluate your arm to see if the test is positive. If it is, you will have a hard, red welt at the injection site. A positive result means you have been infected with TB, even if the infection is not active.

    If your test is positive, your health care provider will do a thorough physical exam and order an X-ray of your lungs to reveal whether the disease is active. For patients in whom there is high suspicion for lung infection with TB, other tests will be ordered using samples of your saliva. If these samples come back positive, you have active pulmonary TB.

    Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems

    Understanding Sarcoidosis -- the Basics

    Sarcoidosis is a chronic disease that affects multiple systems in the body, from the eyes to the lungs to the brain. It is characterized by the buildup of immune system cells in organs that form small clusters called granulomas, a type of inflammation of the involved tissues. Sarcoidosis is found throughout the world. While the disease can affect anybody, young women of African descent and people of Scandinavian, German, Irish, or Puerto Rican origin are more prone to sarcoidosis. It occurs...

    Read the Understanding Sarcoidosis -- the Basics article > >

    Whether or not your TB is active, you should be regularly monitored by your doctor.

    What Is the Treatment for Tuberculosis?

    Treatment for TB depends on whether it is active or latent.

    Latent TB Infection

    If you're infected with TB but don't have the active disease, your doctor will go over your risk factors for developing active TB and will discuss treatment options. An antibiotic called isoniazid (INH) is often prescribed to help prevent the dormant infection from becoming active.

    Your doctor will likely have you take a daily dose of INH for nine months and evaluate you regularly to ensure that you're tolerating the drug without major side effects, which include hepatitis (liver inflammation) and peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage). The risks of taking INH increase with age. In addition, your doctor may recommend vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) to prevent specific side effects of INH. An alternative therapy includes therapy with INH and rifapentine (Priftin) given weekly for three months and directly observed by your health care worker. This regimen can have interactions with other medications and have significant side effects as well.

    Today on WebMD

    man coughing
    You may not even know you have it.
    blood clot
    Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
     
    man coughing
    When a cold becomes bronchitis.
    human lungs
    Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.
     

    chest x-ray
    Slideshow
    Bronchitis Overview
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Copd Myth Fact Quiz
    QUIZ
    Energy Boosting Foods
    SLIDESHOW
     

    lungs
    Article
    smokestacks
    Article
     
    woman coughing
    Article
    Lung xray and caduceus
    Article