A bad cough lasting over three weeks, coughing up blood, chest pain and fever are some signs of tuberculosis. Other signs include loss of appetite, night sweats, weakness, chills and weight loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Bacteria that spread through the air cause tuberculosis. They usually spread when a person speaks, coughs or sneezes, potentially causing others to breathe in bacteria.
There are two types of tuberculosis: latent tuberculosis and active tuberculosis. With latent tuberculosis, the body is carrying the bacteria but is not contagious, nor does it show any symptoms. It is also known as inactive tuberculosis. There are an estimated 2 billion people with latent tuberculosis, claims Mayo Clinic. Active tuberculosis causes symptoms and infects others. It occurs several weeks to years following a latent tuberculosis infection.
People are at a higher risk of contracting tuberculosis if they become infected with the bacteria or they have a weak immune system. A child under the age of 5, people who smoke or abuse substances and people with HIV are at a higher risk of contracting tuberculosis, states the CDC. Doctors treat tuberculosis using medications such as isoniazid, Rifadin, Myambutol and Pyrazinamide, according to Healthline. If left untreated, tuberculosis can cause lung damage, spread to other organs and cause death.