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Can tuberculosis recur even after taking treatment?

Friday, 13 April 2007
Answered by: Dr. Chinari Pradeep Kumar Subudhi
Consultant Medical Microbiologist
Hope Hospital, Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust, Salford
Manchester, UK

Q. Can tuberculosis recur later in life, even after taking the treatment once? My friend had taken the treatment in the year 2000 when he was diagnosed with minor tuberculosis. Treatment was advised for six months post, which she completed the treatment for nine months. These days she is not gaining weight in spite of taking a healthy diet. Are there chances of TB setting in again?

A.  There is a small possibility of reactivation of tuberculosis. It all depends on the initial management of tuberculosis, the site or organ affected, kind of anti TB drugs used during treatment, etc. It is not a very simple straightforward answer. There are various factors, which might have a bearing on reactivation. Not gaining weight despite good diet is NOT a convincing clinical indication to suggest reactivation of tuberculosis. I would think that constitutional symptoms like fever, night sweats, and cough, weight loss, malaise or other symptoms would have more significance. If there is concern about reactivation or relapse of tuberculosis, it is advisable to be seen by a Chest physician who is an expert in management of tuberculosis.

A.  There is a small possibility of reactivation of tuberculosis. It all depends on the initial management of tuberculosis, the site or organ affected, kind of anti TB drugs used during treatment, etc. It is not a very simple straightforward answer. There are various factors, which might have a bearing on reactivation. Not gaining weight despite good diet is NOT a convincing clinical indication to suggest reactivation of tuberculosis. I would think that constitutional symptoms like fever, night sweats, and cough, weight loss, malaise or other symptoms would have more significance. If there is concern about reactivation or relapse of tuberculosis, it is advisable to be seen by a Chest physician who is an expert in management of tuberculosis.

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