Mycobacterium Tuberculosis As A Respiratory Infection: Symptoms And Diagnosis

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The respiratory system is a system of organs that are responsible for gas exchange, such as transporting oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of our bodies. Parts of the respiratory system include nose and nasal cavity, sinuses, mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea, diaphragm, lungs, bronchial tubes, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, and capillaries. The respiratory system can be divided into 2 tracts, upper tract and lower tract. The upper tract comes in direct contact with the external environment and includes the nose, nasal cavity, mouth, pharynx, and larynx. The lower tract of the respiratory system begins below the epiglottis in the larynx. The lower tract includes part of the larynx, trachea, lungs, bronchial tubes, bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli. The primary organs of the respiratory system are the lungs. The lungs work with the circulatory system by taking in oxygen and diffusing it into the blood. Oxygen rich blood is then pumped to cells throughout the body. The circulating blood collects carbon dioxide and transports the CO2 back to the lungs where it gets eliminated by exhalation.

Healthy Microbiota

Healthy microbiota is said to act like a gatekeeper that stops respiratory pathogens from settling and can also aid in the maturation and maintenance of homeostasis of respiratory physiology and immunity. A collection of specialized resident bacterial, viral, and fungal is found in the upper respiratory tract and likely stops potential pathogens from invading and spreading to the lungs. Lung microbiome primarily originates in the upper respiratory tract. The microbiome in healthy people contain Transient microorganisms, they are formed by the immigration and destruction balance of microbial. The most common bacteria in the nasal passages and sinuses include Staphylococcus Epidermidis, Viridans group Streptococci, Corynebacterium Spp., Propioni Bacterium Spp., & Haemophilus Spp. The pharynx can be the home to pathogenic strains such as Streptococcus, Haemophilus, and Neisseria.


There are different bacteria that causes different infections of the respiratory system. One bacterium that is known to cause a respiratory infection is mycobacterium. Mycobacterium is a bacterium that comes from the family mycobateriacae. Mycobacteria look like fungal mycelium because of its slender rod-shaped branching filamentous form. The greek prefix for myco in mycobacteria means “fungus”. The reasoning for mycobacterium to be a fungus like bacteria is because when in liquid mycobacteria forms a mold like pellicle.

Colonies of Mycobacteria

Mycobacteria can be killed at 60°C within 15-20 mins and also can be killed by direct exposure to sunlight for 2 hours, which is why mycobacteria is not resistant to heat. Mycobacterium bind to parasites or live on broken down organic materials. Mycobacteria can be found in different environments such as water, soil, free living farms, and in disease infected tissue of animals. Robert Koch discovered Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in 1882, in which this is the bacteria that causes a respiratory infection known as Tuberculosis (TB). Mycobacterium tuberculosis contains a substance known as mycolic acid which gives the cell a waxy coat. This waxy coating makes the cell be impermeable to gram staining which makes the cell be neither gram positive nor gram negative. Cells such as mycobacterium, are said to be acid-fast bacteria because of their impermeability to specific dyes and stains.

Tuberculosis is a disease in the respiratory system that primarily affects a person's lungs. Although anyone can catch tuberculosis, there are many risk factors that can increase the chances of becoming infected with this disease. The risk factors that can increase the chances of becoming infected include weakened immune system, travelling or living in certain areas, poverty and substance use, and where you work (health care). Tuberculosis is contagious, unless a person has been treated for at least 2 weeks with the right drug in which they are then no longer contagious. This disease spreads from a contagious person with the disease to a person without the disease by coughing, speaking, sneezing, laughing, and singing through inhalation of droplets that spread in the air.

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When tuberculosis goes untreated the infection can spread through the blood and cause complications such as spinal pain, joint damage, meningitis, liver or kidney problems, and heart disorders. There are two types of TB: primary tuberculosis and secondary tuberculosis. Primary tuberculosis is the first infection and usually found in children. Tis type makes up a ghon complex by subpleural granuloma and granulomatous hilar lymph node infection coming together. Secondary tuberculosis is usually the reactivation of the first infection and usually found in adults, likely when their health declines.

There are 2 stages of TB and these are Latent TB and Active TB. Latent TB s when the infection remains in your body in its inactive form. In this stage there are no symptoms and is not contagious, but without treatment it can become active and contagious. In the active stage of TB you have symptoms and are contagious.

Signs and symptoms of TB include:

  • Coughing for 3+ weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • pain with breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • chills and loss of appetite

Diagnosing Tuberculosis

Diagnosis of tuberculosis can be done in a few different ways. A doctor will check your lymph nodes for swelling, listen to your lungs with stethoscope while you breathe, blood test, and a tb skin test. A blood test is known as interon gamma release assays, and it tests a person's response to tb antigens. If the test comes back positive, it means there has been b germs resent and further testing may be needed to and out whether its active or not.

The TB skin test the most common type of TB testing. Tis test is known as the mantoux test and requires to visits. The mantoux test occurs by injecting an inactive TB protein containing fluid called tuberculin under the skin on the forearm. You then wait 2-3 days before going back to the doctor to get the results. If the injection site is raised, has a hard bump or swelled, then your results are positive. If you have no reaction their results are negative.


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Mycobacterium Tuberculosis As A Respiratory Infection: Symptoms And Diagnosis. (2021, September 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from
“Mycobacterium Tuberculosis As A Respiratory Infection: Symptoms And Diagnosis.” Edubirdie, 21 Sept. 2021,
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