Tuberculosis is an illness caused by bacteria that targets your lungs and causes infection in the lungs and other tissues. It was one of the most common causes of death in the US before the 1940s, and several medical treatments have been found to treat tuberculosis at the inception stage itself.
Although the lungs are the main affected area by tuberculosis, there are different forms of tuberculosis that affect different parts of your body, like the brain. Before talking about whether TB is contagious, it is essential to understand the root cause of tuberculosis.
Understanding Tuberculosis And Its Various Stages
TB is spread when someone with active TB releases germs in the air through sneezing, coughing, and so on, and when another person inhales this air, they are susceptible to TB if their immune system is weak.
Tuberculosis comes in three stages: primary TB infection, latent TB infection, and active TB disease.
Primary TB infection is the first stage, where your immune system captures and tries to destroy the germs that were inhaled, and the portion of the germs that were not destroyed by your immune system will multiply in number and target your lungs.
During this stage, there will be little to no symptoms, and you will only have a mild fever or cough with a little tiredness in your body.
The next stage is the latent TB infection, where the cells in your immune system will build a protective wall around your lungs and try to destroy the germs further. During this stage, you will have little to no symptoms.
The last and final stage is active TB disease, and you will enter this stage when your immune system cannot prevent the infection from affecting your body.
During this stage, your lungs and immune system will be in their weakest condition, and you will start exhibiting symptoms like cough, chest pain, fever, weight loss, tiredness, and so on.
It is important to be extremely careful during this stage, as your TB will start spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated.
Is tuberculosis contagious?
Depending on the stage of TB, the contagiousness will vary. While a latent TB infection is not contagious, an active TB that transmits through droplets in the air is more contagious.
Latent TB does not provoke symptoms in your body and does not transmit from one person to another; hence, it is important to prevent latent TB infection from developing into an active TB disease.
It is important to consult your medical expert and intake the required medications to prevent the advancement of TB, and the risk of TB can be reduced by exposing yourself to ventilated areas and avoiding contact with someone who is infected with TB. It is also important to maintain good hygiene.
A person with latent TB need not isolate themselves; however, in the case of active TB, it is advisable to isolate for a few days to prevent further spread of infection and to strengthen your immune system.
It is not possible to measure how much time it will take for latent TB to turn into active TB, and it depends on the strength of your immune system.
While it may take years for someone to reach active TB, some might inhibit it within a few weeks, so it is important to ensure your immune system is strong and healthy.
Your immune system is capable of fighting off the TB germs at the roots, but if you are susceptible to HIV, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, and so on, your immune system will be at its weakest, and during this stage, it is not possible for your immune system to fight off the TB germs, which results in the spread of TB in your body.
Tuberculosis spreads predominantly through the air, and it is not transmitted by sharing cups, touching a surface used by an infected person, and so on.
Depending on the stage of tuberculosis and the strength of your immune system, the spread of TB varies from person to person.
The question of whether tuberculosis is contagious or not depends on the stage of TB. While latent TB is not contagious, active TB is contagious and fatal if proper treatments are not received.