Donate to Tuberculosis Research, Patient Care and Education

Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious bacterial infection that typically attacks the lungs, but does have the ability to spread to and attack other organs of the body. Tuberculosis can be fatal without proper treatment. A donation to tuberculosis research is one way to ensure that tuberculosis does not have to be fatal for patients managing the disease.

Tuberculosis was once the number one cause of death in the United States but is now usually treated successfully with the proper medications. While anyone can become infected with tuberculosis, people who have an increased risk include:

  • The elderly
  • Those with weakened immune systems
  • Inhabitants or employees living or working in a residential facility
  • People who spend time with others who have high transmission rates
  • Travelers to locations where tuberculosis is common

About one-third of the world’s population and ten percent of Americans have M. tuberculosis bacteria in their bodies. This is the bacterium that causes tuberculosis and can be in one of two forms. Latent TB infection (LTBI) features no symptoms. Patients with LTBI do not feel sick, and they cannot pass the infection onto others. A positive TB skin test may be the only indication that the patient has LTBI, but without treatment, tuberculosis may eventually develop. The second form is TB disease, or an active infection. Because tuberculosis is spread through saliva, sputum and nasal secretions from people that are infected, patients who feel sick can spread the disease by coughing, sneezing, or talking. Some people who are exposed to TB do not develop an infection, while others come down with a latent TB infection. Those with weakened immune systems are likely to develop an active infection. This makes them contagious and able to spread the disease to others.

While a latent TB infection will not display symptoms, active infections have several symptoms that may cause great discomfort. These symptoms include:

  • A cough that lasts three or more weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Fatigue

A patient may experience other symptoms if the TB infection spreads to other areas of the body.

Any person exposed to the disease needs to be tested. This requires the completion of a TB skin test, which involves a small injection of liquid. A Northwestern Medicine physician can determine upon an analysis of the liquid whether a patient has TB or if further testing is required. Blood testing may also be required to measure the body’s reaction to the infection. Other tests may include a sputum test (mucus sample) or a chest X-ray. Treatments for tuberculosis involve a course of medications; the length of treatment and type of medicines prescribed depend on whether the TB is latent or active, in addition to the patient’s overall health.

Tuberculosis Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

A donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation will benefit further research aimed at the creation of effective treatments for patients with tuberculosis. Your generous support is crucial in making tuberculosis a fairly manageable disease to treat.