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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Tuberculosis
      Category : Health Centers > Infections (Infectious Diseases)

Tuberculosis

Alternate Names : TB, Phthisis

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium. It can affect any organ in the body but most commonly affects the lungs.

What is going on in the body?

TB is spread person to person when the bacteria is coughed into the air by one person and is inhaled by another person. In most people, the immune system, which is the body's defense against germs and other invaders, is able to control the infection. In these cases, the infection may cause few or no symptoms. Children younger than age 4, teenagers, elderly people, and those who have problems with their immune systems may develop a more severe infection. Severe infections can occur in every part of the body, including the brain. Tuberculosis is a common cause of death in the rest of the world, though death is rare in the US.

What are the causes and risks of the infection?

Exposure to a person with tuberculosis is the cause of the infection. Certain populations in the US are at a high risk of getting and spreading the infection. These "high-risk" populations include:

  • the poor and homeless
  • those who abuse alcohol or drugs
  • people with weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS or cancer
  • people from less developed countries where tuberculosis is more common

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    Tuberculosis: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Danielle Zerr, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 09/04/01



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