Without treatment, tuberculosis can be fatal. Untreated active disease typically affects your lungs, but it can spread to other parts of the body through your bloodstream. Examples include:
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- Bones. Spinal pain and joint destruction may result from TB that infects your bones. In many cases, the ribs are affected.
- Brain. Tuberculosis in your brain can cause meningitis, a sometimes fatal swelling of the membranes that cover your brain and spinal cord.
- Liver or kidneys. Your liver and kidneys help filter waste and impurities from your bloodstream. These functions become impaired if the liver or kidneys are affected by tuberculosis.
- Heart. Tuberculosis can infect the tissues that surround your heart, causing inflammation and fluid collections that may interfere with your heart's ability to pump effectively. This condition, called cardiac tamponade, can be fatal.
- Questions and answers about tuberculosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tb/publications/faqs/pdfs/qa.pdf. Accessed Oct. 16, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Oct. 16, 2012.
- Sterling TR, et al. Three months of rifapentine and isoniazid for latent tuberculosis infection. New England Journal of Medicine. 2011;365:2155.
- Druszczynska M, et al. Latent M. tuberculosis infection - pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment and prevention strategies. Polish Journal of Microbiology. 2012;61:3.
- Coussens AK, et al. Vitamin D accelerates resolution of inflammatory responses during tuberculosis treatment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2012;109:15449.
- Lawn SD, et al. Tuberculosis in antiretroviral treatment services in resource-limited settings: Addressing the challenges of screening and diagnosis. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2011;204:S1159.
- Tuberculosis. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs104/en/index.html. Accessed Oct.23, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2013: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-08373-7..00002-9&isbn=978-0-323-08373-7&about=true&uniqId=343863096-23. Accessed Oct. 16, 2012.