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What Can I Expect During a Tuberculosis Test?

A skin test is the first step in diagnosing tuberculosis.
Article Details
  • Written By: Haven Esme
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Doctors use a skin test called the Montaux test, which is often called the PPD test, to check for tuberculosis. During the Montaux test, the doctor injects PPD tuberculin below the skin of the forearm and then waits for a reaction. Individuals who have tuberculosis will develop a raised bump at the site of the injection after the tuberculosis test. Those who experience a positive tuberculosis test will undergo a chest x-ray and complete medical evaluation. Extensive testing will confirm if an individual has active tuberculosis.

There are certain signs and symptoms that will accompany a tuberculosis infection. Some common signs of active tuberculosis include fatigue, fever, weight loss, chest pain, chills, night sweats, and a cough that lasts several weeks. It’s vital that a tuberculosis infection is properly treated. Untreated tuberculosis can cause a variety of devastating health issues. For example, tuberculosis of the brain can cause brain damage if it is untreated.

Treatment for tuberculosis requires several medicines. These medicines include isoniazid, rifampin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol. In addition to medication, individuals with tuberculosis should take steps to prevent family and friends from getting sick. These steps include covering the mouth during sneezes or coughing, and ensuring that rooms are adequately ventilated.

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A positive tuberculosis test doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has tuberculosis. In most cases, individuals with positive tuberculosis test do not have tuberculosis. It is possible to be infected with the tuberculosis bacteria, yet not have the disease. Many healthy people infected with tuberculosis bacteria are able to fight off the infection and keep their bodies from developing the disease. When this is the case, the bacteria will remain inactive in the lungs. Only a small percentage of people infected with the tuberculosis bacteria eventually develop active tuberculosis.

In some cases, a tuberculosis test result could be a false positive. There are several reasons why false positives occur. Some people are infected with a different mycobacterium, which causes a false positive. Other reasons for a false positive include a severely weakened immune system, recent vaccination, and improper testing. It is more difficult to detect tuberculosis in children.

According to the World Health Organization, around two billion people around the globe have tuberculosis, and three million people die from the disease each year. There are things that an individual can do to reduce their chances of getting tuberculosis. Preventative steps include keeping a healthy immune system through diet, exercising, and adequate sleep.

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