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Tuberculosis (TB) - The Facts

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Published on December 26, 2017. Last modified on January 12, 2018

Signs and Symptoms

Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection (LTBI) and TB disease. Both latent TB infection and TB disease can be treated.

TB Disease:

Symptoms of TB disease depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs (pulmonary TB). TB disease in the lungs may cause symptoms such as

  • a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • pain in the chest
  • coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)

Other symptoms of TB disease are

  • weakness or fatigue
  • weight loss
  • no appetite
  • chills
  • fever
  • sweating at night

Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

Latent Tuberculosis Infection. Learn more from CDC
Latent TB Infection (LTBI):

People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms and cannot spread TB to others.


Transmission (How it Spreads)

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

TB is NOT spread by

  • shaking someone’s hand
  • sharing food or drink
  • touching bed linens or toilet seats
  • sharing toothbrushes
  • kissing