Intestinal Tuberculosis

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is intestinal tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is a very common bacterial infection and it can cause many symptoms. It is an infection caused by a bacteria called as Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. Most commonly, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis infects the lungs. However sometimes it can infect lymph nodes and other organs, such as the intestines.

Treatment for tuberculosis usually requires taking several drugs at the same time for many month, you may also need to be evaluated for medical conditions that may have put you at higher risk of contracting tuberculosis, such as infection with the HIV virus.

How common is intestinal tuberculosis?

Intestinal tuberculosis is common especially in developing countries. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of intestinal tuberculosis?

The symptoms of intestinal tuberculosis are non-specific, the most common symptoms are:

  • Generalized or localized abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea (especially if you have ulcerative lesions)
  • Constipation
  • Bleeding rectum

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes intestinal tuberculosis?

Intestinal tuberculosis can occur either started at the intestines (primary) or spread from other sites (secondary). Intestinal tuberculosis can occur when you drink or eat products from unpasteurized milk with tuberculous germ. These germs are more active when the host immune system is decreased, such as from HIV and anemia.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for intestinal tuberculosis?

There are many risk factors for intestinal tuberculosis, such as:

  • Infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS and weakens the immune system
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Low body weight
  • Head or neck cancer, leukemia, or Hodgkin’s disease
  • Some medical treatments, including corticosteroids or certain medications used for autoimmune or vasculitic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, which suppress the immune system.
  • Silicosis, a respiratory condition caused by inhaling silica dust.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.


How is intestinal tuberculosis diagnosed?

These tests are usually involved:

  • Laboratory tests: Anaemia, lymphocytosis, and an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate are common in patients with tuberculosis.
  • Radiology: Chest radiography may show evidence of tuberculosis, but a negative chest radiograph does not exclude the diagnosis.
  • Barium enema and barium meal examinations
  • Lymphangiography: X-ray examination of the vessels of the lymphatic system after injection of a substance opaque to X-rays.
  • Medical ultrasound
  • CT scanning: CT can be helpful in ruling out the presence of a neoplasm and in observing resolution of disease during chemotherapy.
  • Gallium citrate scans detect serosal inflammation and peritonitis
  • Colonoscopy may reveal nodular lesions in the ileocaecal area.
  • Laparoscopys
  • Serum antibodies can be detected by the enzyme linked immunosorbent assay or by the soluble antigen fluorescent antibody test.

How is intestinal tuberculosis treated?

Enteric tuberculosis is treated medically; surgery is reserved for complications.

Medicinal option: Isoniazid (300 mg) and rifampin (600 mg) daily for 18 to 24 months is the regimen of choice. When the sputum reveals large numbers of acid-fast bacilli, streptomycin 1 g/day for 2 to 3 months is recommended. In patients with tuberculous peritonitis, the addition of steroids to the antituberculosis regimen may help prevent adhesions.

Surgery option: Acute intestinal obstruction, perforation, and peritonitis are treated conservatively, if possible. Operations undertaken during the acute stage carry a high mortality rate. When the diagnosis of tuberculous enteritis is confirmed preoperatively, optimum treatment consists of preoperative chemotherapy (isoniazid, rifampin, and ethambutol) for 4 to 6 weeks followed by surgery. Postoperative chemotherapy (isoniazid and rifampin) is given for 18 months.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage intestinal tuberculosis?

People with active intestinal tuberculosis disease should stay home from work and school until the doctor says it’s safe to return, in order to avoid infecting others. This may take a few weeks, although the treatment will continue for several months. Once the doctor says you are no longer infectious, you can return to your normal activities if you feel up to it.

If you are being treated at home, while you are still infectious, you should be careful to avoid infecting family members. The bacteria are spread through the air, so please wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth. Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, then seal the tissue in a bag to throw it away.

Make sure the rooms you are in have adequate ventilation, so that any bacteria you do exhale are carried away. You can place a fan facing out of a window to blow bacteria-carrying air out of the room.

The most important point is to take all of your medications on time and for the full period. If you stop taking some of your medications or skip some doses, you greatly increase the risk antibiotic resistant.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: March 19, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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