Causes of Tuberculosis

Causes of tuberculosis are many with regards to the factors that spread the inection. Learn more about these causes so that you can safeguard yourself from TB better.

Vatsal Anand
Written by: Vatsal AnandUpdated at: Mar 23, 2012 11:16 IST
Causes of Tuberculosis

3rd Edition of HealthCare Heroes Awards 2023

Causes of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is spread by the bacteria known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is one that spreads through inhalation and affects the lungs in most of the cases. There are some people who do not respond adversely to the infection at all, while in some the tuberculosis the bacteria is destroyed very soon after it enters. Various environmental and other factors can be cause tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis risk factors are the following:

  • The chances of being infected with TB are higher if you travel from, or travel to some countries where TB is common.
  • People with increased risk of TB include elderly, substance abuse patients, homeless people, people who spend their lives in correctional facility, and those with weakened immune system as a result of HIV or AIDS.
  • If you are in close or active contact with some people, the chances of contracting the disease is only going to increase. That is why the health workers come under the category of high risk group as they are exposed to a lot to TB patients.

The following factors play a role in promoting active disease in someone who has an inactive TB infection:

  • Diabetes.
  • Head or neck cancer.
  • Illnesses that damage the immune system, such as HIV or AIDS.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Long-term use of steroids.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Medications that damage the immune system, for example anti-cancer medications such as tacrolimus.
  • Radiotherapy.
  • Pregnancy.

There are no symptoms of inactive or dormant TB. So, someone may have been infected with the TB bacteria and yet not show any signs of the disease. Symptoms appear when TB infection is active.

Moreoer, the TB symptoms develop gradually, and it may be weeks before you find that something is wrong and you need to visit your doctor. Although the TB bacteria can infect any organ (kidney, bones, lymph nodes,  joints) of the body, the infection is most common in the lungs.

Only people with active TB infection can spread its bacteria. Coughing, sneezing and even talking can fill the surrounding air with the bacteria, and people who breathe in this air can contract the infection. The chances of this happening increase if you live in close quarters with someone who is infect, or if the ventilation in your room is not proper.


Read more articles on Understand Tuberculosis