The World Health Organization estimates that 10 million people worldwide fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) in 2019. It is one of the top 10 leading causes of death by a single virus or bacteria.
In the United States, tuberculosis is far less common than it is in other countries. But, regardless of where you are in the world, early diagnosis of tuberculosis is an important part of preventing fatal illness.
But what are the signs and symptoms of tuberculosis? And how do you get a TB test? What are the advantages of the TB blood test? What is the QuantiFERON TB Gold Plus test?
Read on for all the answers you are looking for.
What Is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease that primarily impacts the lungs. It can also infect the bones, central nervous system, joints, and urinary tract.
Latent TB vs. Active TB Disease
There is an important distinction to make between latent TB infection (LTBI) and active TB disease. Active TB disease is what most people think of when they think of tuberculosis. It is when you have symptoms and are contagious.
90% of people infected with TB have a latent infection. Someone with LTBI has been infected with the TB bacteria, but their immune system has controlled the infection. They do not have any symptoms and they are not contagious.
LTBI can develop into an active TB disease if the immune system becomes suppressed at any point in the future.
Risk Factors for TB
Anyone who comes into contact with an individual with active TB disease that has not started treatment is at risk of contracting TB. However, certain risk factors make you more likely to become infected.
95% of tuberculosis infections and deaths in the world occur in developing countries. If you live in, were born in, or spend extended amounts of time in countries with a high prevalence of TB, you are at greater risk.
Other diseases that compromise the immune system, like HIV/AIDS, can significantly increase your risk of developing TB. Additionally, living or working in health care settings or in cramped conditions like in prisons, schools, homeless shelters, and military camps can increase risk.
Causes of TB
Tuberculosis is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. The bacteria is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets in the air. These droplets can enter the air when an infected person coughs, speaks, spits, sneezes, laughs, or sings.
Though TB is highly infectious, most people are no longer contagious after they have received treatment for at least two weeks. For this reason, it is more likely that you will become infected by someone you live, work, or spend time with rather than a stranger.
Signs and Symptoms of TB
Symptoms of active TB disease may develop years after infection with the bacteria. Here are common symptoms of TB:
- Cough that lasts for three or more weeks
- Coughing up blood
- Loss of appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- Pain when breathing and/or in the chest
- Shortness of breath
If the TB is infecting other parts of your body, you might experience symptoms like pain in the infected area.
TB in the United States
In the United States, effective infection control means that active TB disease is now very rare. However, an estimated 10-15 million people in America are infected with TB.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals with LTBI receive treatment. Treating LTBI helps to control the spread of TB in the United States.
However, certain populations that are at greater risk for developing a serious disease should be prioritized for receiving treatment.
Anyone with these conditions should seek immediate treatment for TB:
- Injection drug users
In the United States, most individuals will not need to undergo testing for TB unless they are at increased risk for contracting TB. There are two different TB tests: skin tests and blood tests.
For the tuberculin skin test (TST), a doctor or nurse injects a small amount of tuberculin into the skin on your forearm. After 48-72 hours, you have to return to the healthcare professional to have them measure the reaction on your skin.
Based on the size of the reaction on your skin, the healthcare professional will determine whether it's a positive or negative result.
Interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs), or TB blood tests, are another form of TB testing. With TB blood tests, a patient's blood is drawn and sent to a laboratory for further analysis.
TB blood tests are preferred for individuals who have received the bacille Calmette–Guérin, or BCG vaccine. This vaccine can cause false positive results on the skin test, but not with blood tests.
If you receive a positive TST or positive TB blood test, you will need further testing to determine whether you have active TB disease or LTBI. Typically, this testing includes a chest X-ray to check for abnormalities in the lungs.
Why Choose the QuantiFERON TB Gold Plus TB Blood Test?
QuantiFERON TB Gold Plus is one of only two TB blood tests in the United States approved by the FDA.
If you are looking for accuracy, Quantiferon TB Gold Plus is the best test for you. A false positive TB blood test is far less likely than a false positive TST.
Because the test is analyzed in a lab rather than by observing a skin reaction, TB blood tests do not require a second follow-up appointment. With simply one visit to the lab and no adverse side effects, the Quantiferon TB Gold blood test can give you accurate results.
Take a TB Test with Confidence Today
If you suspect you have been infected with tuberculosis, find peace of mind by testing for TB today with the QuantiFERON TB Gold Plus blood test.
Ulta Lab Tests offers highly accurate and reliable tests so that you can make informed decisions about your health.
- Secure and confidential results
- No insurance referral is needed
- Affordable pricing
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
There's no need to wait weeks for an appointment at your doctor's office, go back and forth from the doctor to the lab, or worry about scheduling a second appointment to get your TB test results.
Order your TB blood test today, and your results will be provided to you securely and confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours for most tests.
Take control of your health today with Ulta Lab Tests.