By | June 10, 2022

Tuberculosis, also known as Koch’s disease or consumption, is an infectious disease that usually has a chronic course of the disease. Untreated tuberculosis is almost always fatal. Above all, the high risk of infection and long-term treatment makes tuberculosis a serious and dangerous disease.

What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis, or consumption, is a chronic disease transmitted by infection. The course of the disease can be divided into two stages.

  1. Primary tuberculosis, in which an initial infection with bacteria can be assumed.
  2. Post-primary tuberculosis, which sets in only after primary tuberculosis. It mainly damages the internal organs.

Tuberculosis can appear in an infectious (open) or non-infectious (closed) form. Nevertheless, a closed tuberculosis can become active again, ie infectious. Tuberculosis is notifiable and should be treated immediately by a doctor. If there is a high risk of infection, the person concerned can even be placed in medical isolation. For introduction to leprosy, please visit


Tuberculosis is mostly caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In this case, an infection with the rod-shaped bacteria occurs, especially in the case of direct contact. Above all, cough sputum, urine, gastric juice or stool are highly contagious. Therefore, depending on the cause, tuberculosis can be differentiated into pulmonary tuberculosis, intestinal tuberculosis or urinary tract tuberculosis.

In addition to contact infection, tuberculosis is also transmitted via the classic route of droplet infection. Typical of this are sneezing, coughing and speaking. The period from infection to the onset of the first symptoms (incubation period) is usually two weeks to several months. In most cases, the disease breaks out within six months after infection.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The symptoms of tuberculosis are usually very non-specific. Many patients suffer from loss of appetite, weakness, exhaustion and weight loss. Very often the body temperature is also increased and night sweats occur. Only about half of all tuberculosis-infected people develop symptoms in the lungs such as “coughing” or coughing without much sputum.

If the airways are also attacked by the bacteria, this is referred to as open pulmonary tuberculosis, in which breathing difficulties also occur. If the disease progresses, those affected cough up blood. In extreme cases, a so-called haemorrhage may also occur. If a cough lasts longer than three weeks and the patient complains of bloody sputum, a doctor should definitely be consulted.

A particularly severe form is the so-called military tuberculosis, in which the general condition of the patient is very badly affected. They also suffer from severe illness and high fever. In immunocompromised people, tuberculosis can also spread to other organs, such as the spinal cord, brain, intestines, bones, lymph nodes or kidneys. The symptoms of the disease are then very different and the disease is often very difficult to diagnose in this case.


The course of tuberculosis is favorable with timely examination and diagnosis. If the therapy is followed as prescribed by the doctor, healing is possible without consequential damage.

However, if the person concerned does not go to the doctor or if the tuberculosis is not detected early, this can have negative effects on the internal organs such as the heart or lungs. Especially when the immune system is weakened, the disease can lead to death.


The complications that occur in connection with tuberculosis are diverse and depend on where in the body the pathogens have already spread. In addition, if there is no treatment, in about 50 percent of cases the last complication is the death of the person concerned within a few years.

Tuberculosis can be the first complication to migrate in the body. This usually happens via the lymphatic system from the lungs. This is how the pathogens reach the internal organs, the bones, the meninges and other regions of the body. People with a weakened immune system are particularly at risk.

As a result, there are occasional serious complications that depend on the duration of the disease and the treatment. Meningitis can occur. Intestinal infestation also poses a high risk, since perforations and the associated sepsis can occur. Functional losses or disorders of individual organs occur.

On the one hand, the lungs are damaged by the pathogen. On the other hand, swollen lymph nodes in the area lead to the risk of airway obstruction. A pneumothorax can occur. For those affected, this means the need for rapid medical intervention to stabilize the airways.

Inflammation of the bone marrow is possible, which in turn can have a significant impact on blood formation and the immune system. Blood clotting can also be disturbed. Complications can largely be avoided with early and consistent treatment.

When should you go to the doctor?

In the beginning, tuberculosis usually does not cause any clear symptoms. At best, those affected feel sickly, cough occasionally and may suffer from slight exhaustion. Night sweats and loss of appetite are signs that need to be investigated. Also weight loss and coughing up blood. Symptoms such as persistent cough, sputum production or shortness of breath may be due to advanced tuberculosis. Medical advice is required if the signs of illness affect well-being and do not subside within a few days.

If there are other symptoms such as fever or increasing exhaustion, the doctor must be consulted immediately. Antibiotic therapy must be closely monitored by a doctor. The patient must consult the doctor closely and, if necessary, initiate the first preventive measures. A doctor’s visit is necessary if the typical tuberculosis symptoms occur in a pregnant woman or people with previous illnesses. If a severe fever or signs of a circulatory collapse become noticeable, it is best to call the medical emergency service or the emergency services directly so that treatment can take place immediately.

Treatment & Therapy

Since tuberculosis can be highly contagious, a doctor should be consulted urgently. Furthermore, in Germany there is an obligation to report cases of tuberculosis to the public health officer. The treatment of open, i.e. infectious, tuberculosis patients takes place as an inpatient in a hospital. Mostly under quarantine.

Different combinations of antibiotics are used to treat tuberculosis. This is necessary because some tuberculosis pathogens have become resistant to antibiotics. The aim of this therapy is to stop the bacteria and their multiplication or to kill them. A treatment, for example for pulmonary tuberculosis, can last up to six months.

In addition to this therapy, doctors should also use other means to alleviate the accompanying symptoms. Above all, the very strong cough or urge to cough should be alleviated. Smoking and alcohol are absolutely forbidden during this long phase of tuberculosis therapy. If there were no complications during the treatment, the person concerned should still be examined regularly for at least two years. Sometimes not all tuberculosis pathogens have been killed completely, so that the disease can break out again.


The main way to prevent tuberculosis is through vaccination. However, the effectiveness of this vaccination is controversial. You can find out more information about this from your family doctor. Another preventive measure is the rapid diagnosis of other tuberculosis patients and their isolated treatment in the hospital.


In any case, extensive follow-up examinations are necessary after tuberculosis has healed, as there is a risk of a recurrence. The affected patients must be medically monitored for a period of at least two years, depending on the assessment of the treating physician. Sometimes intensive monitoring lasting several years is necessary.

The attending physician decides on the monitoring duration of the respective patient. The decisive factors here are the age and medical history of the person concerned, the risk assessment by the health department, the result of the clinical findings and the environmental hazard. It is also important to know whether you have any chronic diseases. The duration and control intervals can vary greatly depending on the clinic and the doctor treating you.

An examination usually includes at least a weight check, a chest X-ray and a sputum sample. Other measures can also be taken. In some cases, a stay in a rehabilitation clinic is advisable within the first few months after healing. For many of those affected, the disease and the associated lengthy hospital stays in isolation rooms represent a great psychological burden. It is therefore advisable to also seek psychotherapeutic help in the course of aftercare.

You can do that yourself

Natural home remedies can be helpful. Garlic in particular contains a lot of sulfuric acid, which can destroy the causative germs. It also contains ajoene and allicin, which can inhibit bacterial growth. The antibacterial properties and an immune-boosting effect are of great benefit.

In addition, bananas are also an excellent supplier of much-needed nutrients and calcium, which strengthen the immune system of those affected. The ingredients can also help to noticeably relieve the constant cough and fever. Moringa also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help clear tuberculosis bacteria from the lungs. Moringa also reduces inflammation caused by the constant coughing caused by infection. The Moringa pods and their leaves are also a source of important carotene, phosphorus, calcium and the valuable vitamin C.

The medicinal plant mint is beneficial as it has healing and antibacterial properties. The mint especially helps to loosen the stuck phlegm, revitalize the body and oxygenate the lungs. Black pepper can help cleanse the affected lungs, which can relieve chest pain associated with tuberculosis. Also due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it reduces the inflammation caused by bacteria and the annoying cough. Orange juice has a salt-like effect in the lungs, which facilitates expectoration and protects against secondary infections.