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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Children's Health Tuberculosis in children

Tuberculosis in children

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that primarily affects lungs. Tuberculosis is spread from person to person through tiny droplets released into the air. Most people who become infected with the bacteria that cause tuberculosis don't develop symptoms of the disease.

Tuberculosis in children

Causes of Tuberculosis:

The cause of tuberculosis is a bacterium, named the Mycobacterium tuberculosis. As described above, this bacterium is transmitted from one person to the other through the air medium. For this reason, TB is said to be an airborne disease. Despite advances in treatment, TB remains a major cause of illness and death worldwide.

There are two types of tuberculosis:

Latent TB. In this condition, the bacteria remain in your body in an inactive state and cause no symptoms. Latent TB also called inactive TB. It is not contagious.
Active TB: This condition makes you sick and can spread to others.

Signs and symptoms of active TB include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite


Tuberculosis usually attacks your lungs.

Signs and symptoms of TB of the lungs include:

  • Coughing that lasts three or more weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain or pain with breathing or coughing.
  • Breathlessness.


Tuberculosis can also affect other parts of body, including kidneys, spine or brain. When TB occurs outside lungs, symptoms vary according to the organs involved. For example, tuberculosis of the spine may cause back pain, and tuberculosis in kidneys might cause blood in urine.


Without treatment, tuberculosis can be fatal. Drug-resistant strains of the disease are more difficult to treat.
Untreated active disease typically affects your lungs, but it can spread to other parts of the body through your bloodstream.

Complications vary according to the location of TB bacteria:

  • Lung damage can occur if TB in lungs (pulmonary TB) isn't diagnosed and treated early.
  • Severe pain abscesses and joint destruction may result from TB that infects your bones.
  • Meningitis can occur if TB infects brain and central nervous system.
  • Miliary TB is TB that has spread throughout the entire body, a serious complication.

Diagnosis of tuberculosis:

  • Mantoux test: It is a skin test in which a small amount of a substance called PPD tuberculin is injected just below the skin of your inside forearm. The hard, raised red bump (induration) means you're likely to have TB infection.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests may be used to confirm or rule out latent or active TB.
  • Sputum examination for the bacteria.
  • Chest X-ray or CT scan of the chest.


It's harder to diagnose TB in children than in adults. Children may swallow sputum, rather than coughing it out, making it harder to take culture samples. And infants and young children may not react to the skin test.


Anti-tubercular drugs like isoniazid, rifampin (Rifadin), ethambutol (Myambutol) and pyrazinamide. The treatment period for tuberculosis varies from 6 months to 9 months.


TB is preventable.

  • Keep your immune system healthy. Eat plenty of healthy foods including fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep, and exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week to keep your immune system in top form.
  • Finish your entire course of medication. This is the most important step you can take to protect yourself and others from TB.
  • Avoiding exposure with the people who have already being suffering from the tuberculosis.
  • BCG vaccine: It is given after birth to prevent tuberculosis.