How can I know if a person has tuberculosis

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The most common sign of TB is a cough that lasts for more than 3 weeks, especially if there is blood in the sputum (mucus that comes up from the lungs). Other signs include loss of appetite and weight, fever, feeling tired and night sweats.

But the only way to know for sure that a person has TB is to have the sputum tested. To get a sample of sputum—and not just saliva (spit)—a person must cough hard to bring up material from deep in her lungs. The sputum is then examined in a laboratory to see if it contains TB germs (is positive).

IMPORTANT: Because it is so common for people with HIV to also be infected with TB, all HIV-infected people should be tested for TB. If the TB test is positive, the person should begin treatment right away. And in countries where HIV is common, all people with TB should consider getting an HIV test.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en011606