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How does tuberculosis (TB) affect your body?

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A tuberculosis (TB) infection doesn’t mean you’ll get sick. There are two forms of the disease:

  • Latent TB: You have the germs in your body, but your immune system stops them from spreading. That means you don’t have any symptoms and you’re not contagious, but the infection is still alive in your body and can one day become active. If you are at high risk for re-activation — for instance, you have HIV, your primary infection was in the last 2 years, your chest X-ray is abnormal, or you are immunocompromised --- your doctor will treat you with antibiotics to lower the risk for developing active TB.  
  • Active TB disease: This means the germs multiply and can make you sick. You can spread the disease to others. Ninety percent of adult cases of active TB are from the reactivation of a latent TB infection.

From: Tuberculosis (TB) WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Brian W. Christman, MD, professor and vice-chair, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; volunteer national spokesperson, American Lung Association.

CDC: “Tuberculosis.”

American Lung Association: “Learn About Tuberculosis.”

Mayo Clinic: “Tuberculosis.”

World Health Organization: “Tuberculosis.”

UpToDate.

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on May 9, 2019

SOURCES:

Brian W. Christman, MD, professor and vice-chair, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; volunteer national spokesperson, American Lung Association.

CDC: “Tuberculosis.”

American Lung Association: “Learn About Tuberculosis.”

Mayo Clinic: “Tuberculosis.”

World Health Organization: “Tuberculosis.”

UpToDate.

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on May 9, 2019

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What are the symptoms of tuberculosis (TB)?

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