Tuberculosis (TB)


Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection, spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs, or sneezes, of an infected person.
It mainly affects the lungs, but it can affect any part of the body, including the tummy (abdomen) glands, bones , and nervous system.
TB is a serious condition. It can be cured if it's treated with the right antibiotics.

Symptoms of active TB

  • A persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks. Phlegm is usually brought up, and it may be blood
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • High temperature (fever)
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swellings in the neck

You should see a GP if you have a cough that lasts more than three weeks, or you cough up blood.

Latent TB could develop into an active TB disease at a later date, particularly if your immune system becomes weakened.
With treatment, TB can almost always be cured. A course of antibiotics will usually need to be taken for six months.

Practical advice & tips

What Are The Typical Symptoms Of Active TB?

There are two types of Tuberculosis:
TB is a bacterial infection. TB that affects the lungs (pulmonary TB) is the most contagious type. It usually only spreads after prolonged exposure to someone with the illness.
In most healthy people, the body's natural defence against infection and illness (the immune system) kills the bacteria, and there are no symptoms.

  • Latent TB -Sometimes, the immune system can't kill the bacteria, but manages to prevent it spreading in the body.  You won't have any symptoms, but the bacteria will remain in your body. This is known as latent TB. People with latent TB aren't infectious to others.
  • Active TB- If the immune system fails to kill or contain the infection, it can spread within the lungs or other parts of the body. Symptoms will develop within a few weeks or months. This is known as active TB.

Do I Need Testing For Latent TB?

In some circumstances, you may need to have a test to check for latent TB; where you've been infected with TB bacteria, but don't have any symptoms.
For example, you may need to have a test if you've been in close contact with someone known to have active TB disease involving the lungs. If you've recently spent time in a country where TB levels are high, a test would be useful.

If you've just moved to the UK from a country where TB is common, you should expect to be contacted on your arrival at Swansea University for TB screening. It is compulsory to attend all appointments for TB screening, even if you have already been tested prior to your arrival in the UK. The tests are for the safety and wellbeing of yourself and your fellow students. They must not be missed. If you think you should have received TB testing, but have missed your appointments or did not receive the notifications, please register with the GP in the Student Health Centre or at SA1 Medical Centre. They can arrange your testing if appropriate.
(Information taken from

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