Tuberculosis, which is commonly referred to as TB, is an infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs, although it can spread to other areas of the body such as the kidneys, brain, and spine.
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Tuberculosis is considered an airborne pathogen, as the bacteria that cause the disease can spread from person to person through the air, infecting an estimated nine million people worldwide each year. Although certain individuals are more at risk of developing tuberculosis than others (as we’ll discuss later), anyone can get it. So it’s important to recognize the symptoms in order to seek appropriate medical treatment.
1. A Cough that Lasts Three or More Weeks
There are two types of tuberculosis: latent tuberculosis and active tuberculosis. With latent tuberculosis, people become infected but do not actually develop the disease, and therefore have no symptoms. Those with active tuberculosis, however, do become sick after being infected with the disease.
One of the primary symptoms of active tuberculosis is a bad cough that persists for a period longer than three weeks. With this cough, the Government of Canada indicates it may cause you to sometimes cough up blood or phlegm, “thick liquid that comes up from your lungs or airways.”