TB spreads from person to person through tiny droplets that are released into the air through coughing or sneezing. Close household contact with an individual with TB is the most important risk factor for the spread of TB.
The bacteria can also attack any part of the body, including your brain, intestines, and bones, glands, as it gains entry to the blood through your lungs.
Some who are exposed to TB never develop symptoms because the bacteria can live in an inactive form in the body, also known as the latent infection. But if the immune system weakens, as is often the case in people in people with immunosuppressive conditions such as HIV infection and AIDS, end stage kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, and cigarette smoking.
TB bacteria can become active again (the condition is called reactivation TB).
In their re-activated state, TB bacteria cause death of tissue in the organs they infect. Reactivation TB disease can be fatal if left untreated.
Whether you’re living with this condition or you want to lessen your risk, information is key.
Here’s some of the most pressing questions about tuberculosis, answered.
What are the Symptoms of Tuberculosis?
Aside from answering “how does tuberculosis spread?,” it also helps to know how to spot its signs.
TB usually develops slowly. In majority of cases, after primary TB infection (i.e. entry of TB into your lungs), 90 percent of individuals with intact immunity control the spread of the bacteria and enter a latent phase.
The infection doesn’t cause any symptoms, and this is known as Latent TB. The person remains asymptomatic, but this latent disease can potentially become active at any time. An estimated 2 billion people have latent TB and anywhere from 5 to 15 percent of these people will suffer from reactivation of TB during their lifetime.
When you display symptoms, it’s called Active TB.
With this condition, you have a TB infection, but the bacteria remains in your body in an inactive state. It causes no symptoms. Latent TB, which is also called inactive TB or TB infection, isn’t contagious. Even then, it can turn into active TB, so treatment is important to help control the spread of TB.