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Tuberculosis (TB)

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Overview of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis, often shortened to TB, is a contagious infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body, including the kidneys, spine, and brain. Tuberculosis is spread through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks, releasing infectious droplets containing the bacteria into the air. When inhaled by another person, these droplets can lead to TB infection. The term tuberculosis itself has an interesting origin. It comes from the Latin word tuberculum, which means a swelling or bump. This refers to the characteristic nodules (tubercles) that can form in the lungs due to TB infection.

Pulmonary TB is the most common form of TB and primarily affects the lungs. Symptoms may include cough, night sweats, fever, chest pain, unexplained weight loss and coughing up blood.

While TB primarily affects the lungs, it can spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. This is called extrapulmonary tuberculosis. The most common sites for extrapulmonary TB include: