Tuberculosis (consumption) is a bacterial infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs.


Tuberculosis (consumption) is a bacterial infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs. The bacteria are transmitted through droplet infection. Apart from asymptomatic and mild cases, the disease can also cause severe coughing with blood-stained sputum, fever and shortness of breath, among other things. Don’t delay going to the doctor if these symptoms occur. The vaccination is no longer recommended.



  • Symptoms can occur 4 to 8 weeks after the initial infection
  • Usually asymptomatic, bacteria are inactive
  • Approx. 25% of the world's population carry the TB bacteria
    • Latent infection, not contagious
  • Developed countries: HIV/Aids and immigration have caused an increase in case numbers and impact

Initial stage (primary tuberculosis)

Post-primary or reactivation stage

  • Encapsulated primary infection is reactivated, often because of immune deficiency
  • Worsening of general health
  • Severe cough producing yellowish-green, sometimes bloody phlegm
  • Shortness of breath
  • High fever
  • Any organ can be affected: lymph nodes, bones, skin, bowel, urinary tract, meninges, etc.

Causes and treatment


Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Blood test
  • Search for pathogen (direct or indirect)
    • Tuberculin skin test
    • Interferon-y release assay
    • Sputum analysis (e.g. phlegm)
  • Imaging tests
    • Chest x-ray
    • CT scan (computed tomography), if necessary
Possible therapies
  • Standard: four-fold combination therapy (medication)
    • Tuberculostats (anti-TB medication)
    • Duration: as a rule, 6 months
  • Isolation for active tuberculosis (contagious)
  • BCG vaccination is no longer recommended (given by way of exception)

What can I do myself?

  • Symptoms occur
    • Don’t delay a visit to the doctor
    • Wear a face mask
  • Pregnancy: no contact with tuberculosis patients (to protect the unborn baby)
  • General
    • Healthy lifestyle and diet (to strengthen the immune system)
    • Apply general hygiene measures

When to see a doctor?

  • Feeling unwell/fever after travelling to a developing country
  • Coughing producing bloody phlegm/sputum
  • Chronic coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Doctor is required to report the disease

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health, FOPH (_Bundesamt für Gesundheit, BA_G)

Swiss Lung Association, Tuberculosis Competence Centre (Lungenliga Schweiz, Kompetenzzentrum Tuberkulose)


tuberculosis, TB, Koch’s disease, consumption

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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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