1. What is Active TB Disease?
Active TB disease is caused by germs that are spread through the air from person to person. When you have active TB disease, these germs are growing in your body and may be spreading. You may feel sick, or tired and you may have a cough for longer than 3 weeks, weight loss, night sweats and fever. You are contagious and can spread TB to others. TB is curable in Nunavut but if you are not treated, you could die.
2. What is Sleeping TB Infection?
Sleeping TB infection is when you have been in contact with TB germs but the germs are not making you sick. The germs are alive in your body but they are not growing. You do not have symptoms of TB and you cannot spread TB to others.
3. How is TB spread (How do I catch TB)?
TB germs are spread through the air from person to person. If someone has Active TB disease in their lungs, they can spread the germs when they cough, sneeze, or sing and sometimes from talking.
4. Who can get TB?
Anyone who has been close to someone who has active, infectious TB disease can get sleeping TB infection, which can later develop into active TB disease. People who are most likely to get infected are those that spend many hours a day with someone who is sick with active TB disease.
5. What if my friend or someone in my family has TB?
If you or someone you know might have active TB disease or sleeping TB infection, you should go to your community health centre or Public Health clinic for TB testing. Depending on the TB tests you’ve had before, this could mean having a Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) or a chest x-ray and sputum samples.
6. Where/ how can I get tested for TB?
You can be screened for TB at your community health centre or Public Health clinic. If you have never had Active TB disease or sleeping TB infection, you will have a Tuberculin Skin Test (TST).
If you have had active TB disease or sleeping TB infection in the past, you will not have a skin test. Instead you will have a chest X-ray and sputum samples to make sure you don’t have active TB disease.
7. What is a Tuberculin Skin Test (TST)?
A small amount of solution is injected under the skin on your forearm. You need to return to the health centre in 2-3 days and a nurse will look at your arm. If there is a reddened, raised area, the nurse will measure it with a ruler.
8. What does it mean to have a positive skin test?
If your result is positive, this means that you have been exposed to TB germs but it will not tell us if you have active TB disease. More testing with a CXR and sputum samples will tell us this information.
9. What are the signs/ symptoms of active TB disease?
People who are sick with TB in their lungs can have chronic cough, weight loss, night sweats and fever.
10. If I have active TB disease, will I die?
No, TB is curable with medication. If TB is left untreated you could die.
11. If I have active TB disease, will I be sent away?
No, TB can be treated in Nunavut. You may have to spend a couple of weeks in hospital in Iqaluit but afterwards can return to normal activities if feeling able.
12. If I have active TB disease, will I make others sick?
Yes, it is possible that you could infect others if you have active TB disease in your lungs. Those most likely to get sick are the people that you live with and those that you spend time with everyday.
13. If I have active TB disease, can I go to work/ school?
Usually after your first two weeks of treatment you can return to work or school and your other normal activities.
14. Can active TB disease be cured?
Yes, TB can be cured with medications if taken properly.
15. How is active TB disease cured?
Active TB disease is cured by taking medications twice weekly for about 6 months. During the first two weeks of your treatment you will take the medications daily.
16. Once I start treatment for active TB disease, when will I start to feel better?
This can be different for everyone but after 2-3 weeks of treatment you should be starting to feel better.
17. What if I have sleeping TB infection?
Sleeping TB infection can be treated with medication to prevent active TB disease from developing in the future. Medication for sleeping TB infection is taken twice weekly for about 9 months.
18. Why can’t I take my TB medications on my own?
To make sure that everyone completes their TB treatment properly, medications are taken by DOT (Directly Observed Therapy) which means that a health care worker has to watch you take your pills. Everyone on TB treatment takes their medications this way.
19. Can TB medications have side effects?
When taking any medication, there is a chance for side effects to happen. While taking your TB medications, you will be monitored regularly for any side effects. If you feel any side effects during your treatment, be sure to discuss this with your health care practitioner.
20. Can I drink alcohol when I am taking my TB meds?
It is always best not to drink alcohol while taking TB drugs. If you have further questions about this, you can talk to your health care practitioner.
21. Does smoking increase my chances of getting sick with TB?
Smoking damages the lungs and makes you more likely to become infected with TB germs. Smoking also damages the body’s immune system, meaning smokers are less able to fight TB germs and are more likely than non-smokers to develop active TB disease. Second hand smoke also increases your chances of developing sleeping TB infection and active TB disease.
22. What happens if I stop taking my TB medication?
If TB treatment is not completed, the TB germs are not fully killed. If you are finding it difficult to take your TB medications, talk to your health care practitioner. You can work together with your health care practitioner to find ways of making it easier for you to get your TB medications.