When you give your medical history, your doctor collects information about whether you are likely to have tuberculosis (TB), a bacterial infection. An active infection can spread to other people. A latent infection cannot spread to other people, but it can turn active and become contagious. Your doctor will ask whether you:
The physical exam looks for signs of TB. A doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to your breathing for sounds that indicate a problem in your lungs. The doctor also will look for signs of a TB infection in parts of the body other than your lungs (extrapulmonary TB).
A medical history and physical exam may be done to check for TB if you have:
Results from the physical exam may include:
Although the medical history and physical exam can suggest you have active TB disease, finding TB-causing bacteria in the mucus from your lungs (sputum) provides proof.
The medical history alone does not prove whether you have TB disease in parts of the body other than your lungs (extrapulmonary TB). Examining a sample of tissue from the affected area or organ (biopsy) for TB-causing bacteria is the only way to know for sure.
Last Revised: April 15, 2011
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