Is Tuberculosis Contagious

Tuberculosis is popularly known as


. This is caused by the

Mycobacterium tuberculosis

bacteria. This disease mostly affects lungs. This can also infect the lymphatic system, central nervous system, circulatory system, gastrointestinal system, genitourinary system, joints, bones and rarely, even skin. Tb is airborne in the spreading mechanism. Tuberculosis primarily affects lungs. Thus, when a TB infected person sneezes, coughs, talks or spits tiny droplets of bacteria are released into air. Hence, this infects the people surrounding him/her. People with compromised or weak immune system are more susceptible to get infected.

Tuberculosis symptoms include bad cough which lasts for three weeks or more, fatigue, fever, unexplained weight loss, etc. Since, TB is an airborne disease, most people have queries such as “is tuberculosis contagious and how is it contagious”.

Tuberculosis is primarily of two types: extra- pulmonary tuberculosis and pulmonary tuberculosis. Contagious factor is based on the type of the tuberculosis a person is infected with.

Contagious Forms of Tuberculosis:

Miliary Tuberculosis:

This affects in a short span of time that contracts the primary infection. This condition cannot be diagnosed easily and may require repetitive chest x-rays. Early symptom of miliary tuberculosis is appearance of very small nodules throughout the lung. Other symptoms include: sweat, weight loss, high fever, general decline in health and persistent illness. In extreme cases, death may also occur. Older people, children and people with immune suppression infections are more susceptible for the development of miliary tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis Pleurisy:

This develops in short span. This condition results in the rupture of granuloma in the pleural space, space between the chest wall and the lungs. Rupture causes fluids to enter into the space and compresses the lung. Seizure-like pain in chest and shortness of breath, along with low grade fever are some of the tuberculosis pleurisy symptoms. This is contagious.

Cavitary Tuberculosis:

This form of tuberculosis is highly contagious. This bacteria is capable of damaging the upper lobes of lungs by forming huge cavities in them. Also, this provides oxygenated environment for the bacteria of miliary tuberculosis to survive. At times, this spreads to pleural space too and increases the complications for the patient. Chronic cough (with or without blood), low to high fever, fatigue, gradual weight loss and night sweats are the symptoms of cavitary tuberculosis.

Primary Tuberculosis Pneumonia:

This is highly contagious and very rare form. This is almost similar to pneumonia in its symptoms and presentation. People with weak or compromised immune system are at higher risk to get infected with this form of tuberculosis. Elderly people, people with immune suppression infections such as HIV/AIDS are more prone. Persistent cough with or without blood and high fever are common symptoms.

Laryngeal Tuberculosis:

This is considered as a complex form of pulmonary tuberculosis. This is considered as contagious and very dangerous in the last decade. This primarily affects larynx and/ or vocal cord area. This permanently damages the vocal cords if left untreated.

Tuberculosis may be treated easily with several medications, some are proved to be very effective. The answer to the query, is tuberculosis contagious, some forms are contagious while some are not.

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