Symptoms, Testing & Treatment

Symptoms
If you have TB disease, you may have 1 or more of these symptoms:
  • Chest pain when you cough
  • Coughing a lot
  • Coughing up blood
  • Coughing up mucus or phlegm
  • Feel weak
  • Have a fever
  • Lose weight
  • Lose your appetite
  • Sweat a lot at night
A nurse performing a Tuberculosis skin test on a male patient
Without treatment, these symptoms, which can last for several weeks, usually get worse. For more information about tuberculosis, please contact the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department at 785-843-0721 or send us an email.

Testing

Typically, a TB skin test is done to determine if someone has TB. If someone falls into a high risk group for TB, an IGRA blood test may be suggested instead. The Health Department does not perform IGRA testing on-site, but refers clients to the University of Kansas Watkins Memorial Student Health Center, Lawrence Memorial Hospital or the lab of their choice.

Treatment
Latent TB infection is treated with antibiotics to prevent the disease from becoming active. Treating latent TB infection reduces the risk that latent TB infection will progress to TB disease.

TB disease can be treated by taking several drugs for several months. People with TB disease of the lungs will have to remain at home until they have taken enough medication that they are no longer considered contagious. Public health nurses will bring the antibiotics to their home and make sure that they are not having problems with the antibiotics. It is very important that people with TB disease take all of the medication. If they stop taking the drugs too soon, they can become sick again; if they do not take the drugs correctly, the TB bacteria that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs. TB that is resistant to drugs is harder and more expensive to treat.