FAQ About Tuberculosis

1. What kind of disease is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by a bacterium which affects mostly the lungs but can affect the bones, kidney, and other organs too.

2. How can the doctor know when a patient has tuberculosis?

Most of the doctors follow a procedure based on several tests. At first they perform a PPD skin test, and if this test is positive there is a chance for you to have been infected with tuberculosis. Then a thoracic X-ray is done along with a physical exam to check out whether you are contagious or not. Most of the people are PPD positive but this does not mean they are contagious.

3. PPD positive means I am sick?

Normally PPD positive persons are not sick with tuberculosis they have the bacteria in their lungs but they are not affected by it. As long as the person has an intact immune system the disease will not manifest but if their immune system weakens then the bacteria might wake up and manifest. Only then a person is considered to be sick.

4. How can the tuberculosis infection be treated?

The treatment lasts for 6 months and the patient has to take every day a pill called isoniazid, and at the same hour. Every month the patient will go for a check up and the doctor will prescribe the same treatment if there are no side effects from the pill. If nausea, or skin rash appear the doctor will replace this treatment with another.
It is important that the patient follow the treatment as prescribed otherwise the bacteria might continue to live in the lung and harm the patient.

During this treatment with isoniazid the patient is not allowed to drink alcohol as side effects can appear and interfere with the treatment efficiency.

5. After 6 months is the patient cured?

Normally if the patient follows the prescribed treatment the tuberculosis should disappear. There are some cases in which the bacteria is resistant to the prescribed pill and so it is still in the lungs after the treatment is done. But tests made at the end of the treatment will show whether the patient is fine or needs another treatment.

6. What are the symptoms of active tuberculosis?

The patients might have fever, loss of appetite, night sweats, loss of weight and intense cough and fatigue.

7. How can active tuberculosis be treated?

The treatment is made out of a drug combination. The following drugs are used in treating active tuberculosis: Isoniazid, Rifampicin, Ethambutol, and Pyrazinamide.
These drugs must not be taken with alcohol or acetaminophen because they can cause side effects. If any of the following appear do not hesitate to call your doctor: nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, skin rash, extreme tiredness, jaundice and fever.