Proceeds from website advertising help sustain Lab Tests Online. AACC is a not-for-profit organization and does not endorse non-AACC products and services.


Print this article
Share this page:

Signs and Symptoms

A latent TB infection does not cause symptoms. A person may have a latent TB infection for years without knowing it. It is usually detected when he or she has a positive TB screening test.

The classic symptoms of active TB disease in the lungs (pulmonary TB) include:

  • Chronic cough, sometimes with bloody sputum
  • Fever, chills
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Chest pain

Elderly people and those with weakened immune systems may not have these symptoms, yet they are at high risk of spreading TB to others.

When a TB infection occurs outside of the lungs (extrapulmonary disease), symptoms can vary depending on the site that is infected. It may cause few noticeable symptoms or a wide range, including:

  • Back pain and paralysis (spinal TB)
  • Weakness due to anemia (TB in the bone marrow)
  • Joint pain
  • Pain associated with the reproductive system or urinary tract and possibly resulting in infertility
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever and shortness of breath (TB in the pericardium or miliary TB, which occurs when M. tuberculosis infects multiple organs)
  • Altered mental state, headache, and coma (TB in the brain and/or central nervous system, meningitis)

All of these symptoms may also be seen in a variety of other conditions. A diagnosis of active tuberculosis depends on the positive identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the body fluids or tissues.

« Prev | Next »