ZocdocAnswersDo I have tuberculosis?

Question

Do I have tuberculosis?

How do you get tuberculosis? I've been having trouble breathing regularly for two days and now I have a pretty bad cough. Could it be tuberculosis? Can I be tested for it in my blood?

Answer

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection of the lungs. It is fairly rare in the United States, but it does occur, mostly in people who have immigrated from other countries where the rates of tuberculosis are higher. Tuberculosis tends to be a somewhat gradual lung condition. The symptoms of fatigue, weight loss, sweats, and cough with blood tend to develop over a period of weeks to months, although there are obviously exceptions. Based on this, it doesn't sound to me that this is likely to be tuberculosis. However, there are several other potential causes of your symptoms that need to be evaluated by a doctor. In particular, I would be worried about pneumonia, bronchitis, or asthma. These are things that your doctor will be able to rule out by listening to your lungs and perhaps also drawing some basic blood work and checking a chest x-ray. Also it will be important to rule out other causes of the shortness of breath not directly related to the lungs, such as a blood clot or a problem with the heart. Since the symptoms sound pretty bothersome to you, I would recommend that you get in to see your doctor as soon as possible for this evaluation.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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