​Tuberculosis


Tuberculosis (TB) is an infection caused by the bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.TB bacteria, most commonly, attack the lungs; however, they can involve any part of the body such as the kidneys, eyes, joints, spine, and brain. TB is a curable disease but can be fatal, if not detected and treated properly.

Tuberculosis is of two types: latent and active. In the former, TB bacteria stay in your body but in a dormant state and do not cause any harm or symptoms. Nonetheless, treatment is sometimes necessary in order to eliminate any risk of future conversion to active TB. 

In active TB, as the name suggests, the bacteria cause active disease of the body organ(s).  

The following are common symptoms of active TB:

  • Fever, especially with an evening rise in temperature

  • Prolonged cough that exceeds three (or more) weeks

  • Sputum with or without blood

  • Chest pain, that may increase with breathing or coughing

  • Lack of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Night sweats

  • Tiredness

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should immediately contact a doctor working with the Heart, Lungs and Vascular Service Line​ or Internal Medicine Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital, to be evaluated. ​

For a preliminary examination, you can also contact the doctors working with the Family Health Services at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. H​ere ​are some tips to help get you started ​

In the attempts to diagnose TB, your doctor will ask for the following tests.

  • Physical examination: your doctor will examine you in detail for any physical signs of TB.

  • Clinical imaging tests: these may include chest X-ray and, in some cases, CT scan of chest.

  • Tuberculin skin test: reaction to an injection given in your skin could be indicative of exposure to TB bacteria. ​​  

  • Sputum test: this is the most important test to diagnose active TB. Your doctor will advise you to submit early morning sputum samples to the laboratory to check for the presence of TB bacteria.

  • Bronchoscopy: occasionally, it may be required to collect samples from the lungs using a scope under light sedation.

  • Blood tests: routine blood tests such as complete blood count (CBC), liver function tests and creatinine may be necessary, especially before starting treatment.

Tuberculosis is primarily treated with antibiotics that need to be taken regularly for at least 6 months as per your doctor’s instructions. Anti TB drugs are usually safe but you should contact your doctor immediately if you develop any side effects related to your anti TB drugs. In very few cases, severe or life-threatening complications may occur during the course of the disease and surgical intervention may be needed.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.