Signs and Symptoms of Tuberculosis

By  , Expert Content
Mar 22, 2013

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  • Cough for more than three weeks clearly indicates TB.
  • Unexplained or unintended weight loss is also an indication.
  • Fever and sweating at night can also accompany other signs.
  • Tuberculosis of the spine may cause back pain.

Tuberculosis is caused due to infection with mycobacterium tuberculosis, but everyone, who gets infected with the germ does not develop the disease. In most cases, the immune system can prevent you from becoming sick and only about 10% of people infected with M. tuberculosis go on to develop tuberculosis.

symptoms of TBThe signs and symptoms of the disease do not become evident in most cases of TB until the disease has advanced.

Common signs and symptoms of active TB include:

  • Cough for a prolonged duration (more than 3 weeks)
  • Unexplained or unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue, general feeling of tiredness or malaise
  • Fever (usually low grade)
  • Sweating at night
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite


Having these signs and symptoms does not mean that you have tuberculosis. Many other diseases can cause similar symptoms and therefore, the symptoms may easily be blamed on another disease.

What organs are affected?

Signs and symptoms of active TB may also vary depending on the organ that is affected. In most people, the lungs are affected. Signs and symptoms of TB of the lungs include:

  • Cough for three or more weeks
  • Blood in cough (hemoptysis)
  • Chest pain or pain while breathing or coughing


Tuberculosis can affect organs other than the lungs in about 15% of people. About 25% of these people have a history of TB with inadequate treatment. The other organs that are affected by TB include:

  • lymph nodes
  • genitourinary tract
  • bone and joint sites
  • meninges
  • lining covering the outside of the gastrointestinal tract

When TB affects other parts of the body, symptoms vary according to the organs involved.

  • Tuberculosis of the spine may cause back pain
  • Tuberculosis in your kidneys may cause blood in your urine (hematuria)
  • TB of brain may cause symptoms such as headaches, a stiff neck, confusion, vomiting, an altered mental state, seizures and other neurological signs and symptoms


Apart from these symptoms related to the organ that is affected, a person with active TB in any organ also has the following signs and symptoms:

  • Unexplained or unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue, general feeling of tiredness or malaise
  • Fever (usually low grade)
  • Sweating at night (significant sweating while sleeping at night even if the weather is cold)
  • Loss of appetite

If you think you may have been exposed to someone with TB disease, contact your health care provider or your local or state TB control office.


Read more related articles on Tuberculosis.


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