Ask the doctor: Does coughing for more than 2 weeks mean you have TB? Is TB curable?

Ask the doctor: Does coughing for more than 2 weeks mean you have TB? Is TB curable?

Ask the doctor: Does coughing for more than 2 weeks mean you have TB? Is TB curable?

Does coughing for more than 2 weeks mean you have TB? Is TB curable?

Not always. a long standing cough could be caused by various conditions,Tuberculosis(TB) being just one of the culprits. Other conditions that can make you get a long standing cough include; smoking, upper airway cough syndrome, asthma, chronic bronchitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, angiotensin-converting ezyme inhibitor use,etc.

Tuberculosis(TB) is caused by bacteria(Mycobacterium Tuberculosis) that mostly affects the lungs, though it can affect just any other part. TB infection is divided into two: 1) latent TB; a condition where you have the MTB(Mycobacteria Tuberculosis) in your body but have not yet developed symptoms. 2)Active TB disease; a condition where you have MTB in your body and have also developed signs and symptoms. For you to worry about whether you have active TB disease, you should know that the long standing cough in active lung Tb disease will be associated with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weightloss, fever and night sweats. When you present with most of those symptoms above then your doctor will order for a laboratory test to confirm presence of active TB disease in your body.

So who’s at risk of getting TB?
Well, almost evryone; all age groups. Anyone can catch TB. TB is spread through the air from one person to another.The bacteria are put into the air when an individual with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. Whoever is nearby can breathe these bacteria and get infected. But over 95% of the cases and deaths are in developing countries. Individuals who are infected with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop active TB disease. Also suffering from any condition that compromises your immune system e.g Diabetes, also increases your risk of developing active TB disease. Smoking tobacco will also raise your risk. More than 20% of TB cases world wide are attributable to smoking.

Is TB curable?
TB is largely curable and treatable. Once your trained healthcare provider has done the relevant tests for TB on you; and established that you have active TB disease, you’ll be started on standard TB treatment for 6 consecutive months. During this period, you shall need guidance, encouragement and support to enable you adhere properly to your medications. Nearly 45% of HIV-negative people who develop active TB disease but dont get treatment die within one year; and for HIV-positive individuals, nearly all of them die within one year should they access no medication. Therefore next time you or your loved one develops a long standing cough, please seek advice from a trained healthcare provider or contact our doctors on

About the author

Samuel Kagamba is a medical doctor,computer programmer and entrepreneur; very passionate about developing technologies to improve healthcare delivery in Africa.Off duty, he loves soccer and making new friends.Follow him on twitter
@samuelkagamba or email him at facebook account: Samuel Kagamba.

Samuel Kagamba – who has written posts on Aferdoc Blog.

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