backup og meta
Health Screening
Ask Doctor

Tuberculosis Causes to Avoid and Who's Most at Risk

Medically reviewed by January Velasco, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Dec 04, 2020

Tuberculosis Causes to Avoid and Who's Most at Risk

Tuberculosis is an illness that we may hear about often. And though prevalent, tuberculosis can be treated and preventable. It is crucial that we learn the symptoms and how to prevent contracting the disease. Here is a quick rundown of what you need to know about tuberculosis and the tuberculosis causes to avoid.

6 Common Questions about Tuberculosis, Answered

Tuberculosis Causes to Avoid

A bacteria that is called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes tuberculosis. While people are not sure how the pathogen emerged, many people assume that cattle had transmitted it to humans due to close contact. It then evolved to become the bovine tuberculosis strain.

Tuberculosis predominantly affects a person’s lungs. If you have active tuberculosis disease, the bacteria attacking and multiplying in your lungs may eventually reach other parts of your body like the spine, brain, kidney, lymph nodes, etc.

However, not everyone who contracts the bacteria will exhibit the exact same reaction. People who have latent tuberculosis may have the bacteria inside their bodies, but do not seem sick. A person with latent tuberculosis may have the bacteria in their bodies, but they cannot transmit the disease. Many of them may not even realize that they have the infection in the first place.

Most people with latent tuberculosis have strong bodies and immune systems that can fight it to keep it from growing and spreading.

While the majority of people with latent tuberculosis may have inactive tuberculosis bacteria for a lifetime and not develop the disease, that is not always the case. Certain people may get active bacteria after some time, which can vary from anywhere between months to years.

Normally people who suddenly get or have a weak immune system are more likely to get active tuberculosis because their body cannot keep it from growing. That is why there is still treatment available for latent tuberculosis to prevent an outbreak of the disease.

What are the Risk Factors?

Risk factors include:

  • HIV infection
  • IV drug abuse
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Silicosis
  • Immunosuppressive therapy
  • TNF-alpha antagonists
  • Cancer of head and neck
  • Hematologic malignancies
  • End-stage renal disease
  • Intestinal bypass surgery or gastrectomy
  • Chronic malabsorption syndromes
  • Low body weight
  • Smoking
  • Age below 5 years
  • Genetic factors

People with weakened immune systems due to medications, conditions, or diseases, such as cancer treatment, malnutrition, age, AIDS/HIV, diabetes, etc., have a higher risk of getting active tuberculosis.

How Do You Contract Tuberculosis?

The tuberculosis bacteria is airborne. So if a person infected with tuberculosis sings, speaks, or coughs, they release the bacteria into the air that other people inhale and whom they can potentially infect. Some people think that kissing, holding hands, sharing drinks, etc., can spread the bacteria, but that is not true.

To reduce the chances of transmission, it would be best to wear a mask in the early stages of treatment. Whenever you cough, laugh, or sneeze, it would be ideal to cover your mouth with a tissue. Then keep that tissue in a sealed bag before throwing it away.

As stated earlier, a lot of people can easily fight the bacteria and only have latent tuberculosis.

If you live or travel in certain areas like Russia or Africa, where drug-resistant tuberculosis rates are high, you may have a higher chance of contracting it. People who smoke tobacco, have a history of substance abuse, or are from low-income families often have higher chances of contracting and dying from tuberculosis.

Key Takeaways

While tuberculosis is a serious condition, it can be treated and prevented with speedy action and the right safety measures. If you suspect that you have tuberculosis, consult your doctor immediately.

Learn more about Tuberculosis here. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

January Velasco, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Dec 04, 2020

ad iconadvertisement

Was this article helpful?

ad iconadvertisement
ad iconadvertisement