By: Dr. Jubert Benedicto, Pulmonary

Tuberculosis or, commonly known as, TB is still a serious health problem in the Philippines until now. The National TB Control Program reported on its website that 319,007 Filipinos tested positive for TB in 2017.

Tuberculosis cases in the Philippines have been going up in the past ten years.  Based on the National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey (NTPS) 2016, the occurrence of TB went up from 2007 to 2016.  Based on the 2016 National Survey, it is estimated that one million Filipinos have TB.

Available data (as of 2010) from the NTPS puts tuberculosis as the 6th leading cause of death in the Philippines.

TB usually affects the lungs but it can also affect other parts of the body, like the brain, the kidneys, lymph nodes, or the spine. Early diagnosis and knowing the symptoms can be helpful in treating TB; a patient with TB can die if not treated immediately.


TB is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing, and spitting.

Weakened immune system like HIV

A healthy immune system usually fights the TB bacteria successfully. However, if your resistance is weak, your body won’t be able to mount an effective defense against diseases.

The number of tuberculosis cases significantly increased because of the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Infection with HIV makes it difficult for the immune system to control the TB bacteria. As a result, people with HIV are more likely to have TB than people who aren’t HIV positive.


Symptoms of TB vary depending on which body part is affected. The disease also develops slowly and it might take some time for symptoms to manifest. It might not begin months or even years after you’ve been primarily infected. Sometimes the disease doesn’t show any symptoms.

General symptoms of TB can include loss of appetite, weight loss, night sweats, and extreme tiredness and fatigue.  When TB has already infected the lungs, the patient might experience a persistent cough that lasts more than 3 weeks.  Sometimes, the patient may expel bloody sputum. The patient may also have trouble breathing and this may get worse if he is not treated soon.

A patient can also experience persistently swollen glands, abdominal pain, persistent headache, and even fits or seizures.

If you know someone experiencing these symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor. Immediate diagnosis and treatment can save lives. Visit ManilaMed for all your health concerns. Visit their website for more information.