Tuberculosis (TB) – Diagnosis and Treatment

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that can be cured with an appropriate treatment. To prevent TB from spreading early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the infection from becoming fatal active. If the treatment is discontinued in the middle, it can lead to recurrence of the disease. In this article, we will discuss how TB can be detected and treatment for it.

Diagnosis of TB

There are two kinds of tests – one is skin test and the other is blood test used to know whether the person is infected with TB or not.

Choosing a TB test

The doctor will decide which test would be better either skin test or blood test. But in general, it is not recommended to test the person with both the tests.

  • TB skin test: This test is also called as “Mantoux Tuberculin Skin Test.” Under this test, a small amount of liquid called “Tuberculin” is injected on the top layer of the arm. After 2 or 3 days, the injected person has to come to the hospital and the doctor will evaluate whether the injected area is hard, raised or swollen. If the doctor notices these signs, then it is considered that the person is infected with TB bacteria.
  • TB blood test: This test is also called “Interferon-Gamma Release Assays or IGRAs.” Under this test, the doctor will test the person’s blood in laboratory – where he measures how the person’s immune system is reacting to the TB bacteria.
Type of test Positive Negative
TB skin test Person’s body is infected with TB bacteria Person’s blood is reacted to the test
TB blood test Person’s body did not react to the test Person’s blood did not react to the test

Results of the test

  • Positive test results: If the tests are positive, it means that the person is infected with TB bacteria, but it doesn’t tell that the person has Latent TB infection or Active TB disease. Then additional tests like chest X-ray and a sample of sputum are required to determine whether the disease is active or latent.
  • Negative test results: If the tests are negative then it means that the person is not infected with the TB bacteria.


  • Latent TB infection: It means that the person is infected with TB bacteria, but does not have active TB disease. Under this treatment, doctor will prescribe anti-biotic drug called Isoniazid (INH) to prevent the infection from becoming active.
  • Active TB disease: Under this treatment, the doctor will prescribe with several antibiotics in combinations with isoniazid, rifampin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol for 6 to 12 months. At times it requires longer treatment because of development of drug resistance. However, after a week or 10 days of treatment, patient is not infectious to others and can return to his normal activities.

You may also like to read:
Basic Facts on Tuberculosis (TB)
How Does Tuberculosis Spread and How to Prevent the Spread?
Taking Medications Correctly is an Important Aspect of Treating TB
Complications of Untreated Active Tuberculosis

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