In most people with TB infection, the body's defences control the germs which can stay alive in a dormant or inactive state. This is called latent TB infection.
In some people, TB germs overcome the body's immune system defenses, resulting in the progression from TB infection to TB disease. Some people may develop TB disease soon after infection, while others develop TB disease years later when their immune system becomes weak. This may be due to ageing, serious illness, stressful events, drug or alcohol misuse, HIV infection or other conditions.
TB can cause disease in any part of the body, but the lungs are the most common. Some people with TB disease may only have mild symptoms. People with TB may have some or all of the following symptoms:
For TB in the lungs:
For TB outside the lungs:
TB infection: the doctor may prescribe a course of tablets (preventive therapy), or follow up with regular chest x-rays.
TB disease: is treated with a combination of specific antibiotics for at least six months. A chest clinic nurse will supervise your treatment to provide you with support, education and check for any side effects to ensure treatment is successfully completed.
Multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB) occurs when TB bacteria are resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampin, the two most powerful TB drugs. Drug susceptible TB and drug resistant TB is spread in the same way.
For further information please call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055 or visit the New South Wales Health website.