World Tuberculosis Day: Types of Tuberculosis and Ways of Prevention

Here are the different types of tuberculosis explained along with the ways to prevent the spread.

4 min read
Hindi Female

According to reports, even after constant efforts by the government, tuberculosis still remains quite rampant in our country. As per the estimates by the WHO (World Health Organisation), there were over 2.79 million cases of tuberculosis in 2016 in India which is quite high and alarming.

Tuberculosis is that it can affect any part of the body and the most common type of tuberculosis that affects the people in India is pulmonary tuberculosis that affects the lungs.

Tuberculosis is a clinical condition that is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis and it can affect various vital organs and it is also described as a multi-systemic infectious disease. In 2015, the World Health Organization estimated that there are over 1.8 million deaths from TB worldwide.

Let's know the different types of Tuberculosis and their symptoms along with the steps for prevention.


There are two main types of Tuberculosis (Mayo Clinic)

1. Active tuberculosis in which the individual infected by the bacteria has active symptoms and they can transmit the infection to other people, meaning the disease becomes highly contagious.

2. Latent tuberculosis is a disease in which the individual carries the bacteria but has no symptoms. It is because the immune system fights the infection and suppresses it to an extent. This type of Tuberculosis is not contagious. Though at some point, the bacteria can get reactivated and the infection can become active tuberculosis.

The other types of tuberculosis are classified depending on the organs they affect. The other types are: For example, if the bacteria affects the lungs, it results in a condition called pulmonary tuberculosis. If the bacteria affects the bladder, it can cause bladder tuberculosis. Similarly, if it affects the spine, it can lead to tuberculosis of the spine which is also called Potts disease or Potts’s spine. Tuberculosis can also affect the skin, brain and even the heart.

Sometimes, tuberculosis infections are not caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Instead, they are caused by organisms called atypical Mycobacterium. These include the Mycobacterium avium complex, Mycobacterium kansasii and Mycobacterium fortiutum.


3. Pulmonary TB is active TB that affects the lungs. You contract it by breathing in air exhaled by an infected person since the germs remain in the air for several hours. Symptoms include persistent cough, coughing up blood or phlegm. chest pain, and shortness of breath.

4. Extrapulmonary TB involves parts of the body outside of the lungs, such as the bones or organs. Symptoms depend on the part of the body that is infected.

5. TB lymphadenitis is the most common type of extrapulmonary TB that affects the lymph nodes. It affects the the cervical lymph nodes in your neck. Fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats are few symptoms.

6. Skeletal TB, also known as bone TB spreads to your bones from your lungs or lymph nodes affecting your spine and joints. Initially there are no symptoms but it may cause general active TB symptoms along with back pain, swelling, stiffness, bone deformities.

7. Military TB spreads in your the body, affecting one or several organs and it often affects the lungs, bone marrow, and liver. It may spread to other parts of the body like the spinal cord, brain, and heart.

8. Genitourinary TB is the second most common type that affects any part of the genitals or urinary tract, kidneys being the most common sites. It usually spreads to the area from the lungs through the blood or lymph nodes. Genitourinary TB can spread through intercourse.


9. Liver TB, called hepatic TB occurs when TB affects the liver and it can spread to the liver from the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes, or the portal vein. Symptoms include high fever, upper abdominal pain, liver enlargement, jaundice, etc.

10. Gastrointestinal TB can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus. This type of TB causes symptoms similar to other gastrointestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s disease. Symptoms include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, etc.

11. Meningeal tuberculosis spreads to the meninges, which are the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It is spread from the lungs or through the bloodstream. TB meningitis usually develops gradually. Symptoms are fatigue, loss of appetite, aches and pain, persistent headache, nausea, vomiting, etc.

12. TB peritonitis is causes inflammation of the peritoneum, which is a layer of tissue that covers the inside of your abdomen and most of its organs. Ascites and fever are the common symptoms of TB peritonitis.

13. TB pericarditis occurs when TB spreads to the pericardium which consists of two thin layers of tissue separated by fluid surrounding the heart and holding it in place. Symptoms include chest pain, fever, palpitations, shortness of breath, cough, etc.

14. Cutaneous TB is rare and it affects the skin. There are several different types of cutaneous TB, and it can spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms include lesions or sores in elbows, buttocks, knees, feet, etc.


Tuberculosis Prevention: Tips to Prevent the Spread of TB

  • Avoid going to crowded places like workplaces, schools, parks, pools, and college.

  • Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing.

  • Dispose off your used tissues carefully. You can burn them or throw them in covered dustbins.

  • Avoid sharing beds and rooms with un-infected persons.

  • Take all of your medicines on time and do not leave in between unless your doctor asks you to

  • Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.

  • Don’t visit other people's home and don’t invite them to visit you.

  • Use a fan or open windows to move around fresh air.

  • Avoid using public transportation for travel.

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