Intestinal Tuberculosis

Intestinal tuberculosis is a form of tuberculosis that affects the intestines. Tuberculosis, often referred to as TB, is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. While TB commonly affects the lungs, it can also impact other parts of the body, including the intestines. In this guide, we’ll delve into the types, causes, symptoms, diagnostic tests, treatments, surgeries, preventions, and when to seek medical attention for intestinal tuberculosis in a simple, easy-to-understand language.

Types of Intestinal Tuberculosis:

  1. Ulcerative Type: This type involves the formation of ulcers in the intestinal lining.
  2. Fibrotic Type: Characterized by the development of fibrous tissue in the intestines, leading to narrowing.
  3. Hypertrophic Type: Involves thickening of the intestinal wall due to inflammation.

Causes of Intestinal Tuberculosis:

  1. Bacterial Infection: Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria infect the intestines.
  2. Close Contact: Being in close contact with someone who has active tuberculosis increases the risk.
  3. Weak Immune System: Individuals with weakened immune systems are more susceptible.
  4. Poor Living Conditions: Overcrowded or poorly ventilated living spaces increase the risk.
  5. Malnutrition: Poor nutrition weakens the immune system, making individuals more vulnerable.
  6. HIV/AIDS: People with HIV/AIDS are at higher risk of developing intestinal tuberculosis.
  7. Smoking: Smoking weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections.
  8. Chronic Illness: Conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease can increase the risk.
  9. Substandard Healthcare: Limited access to healthcare may delay diagnosis and treatment.
  10. Alcohol Abuse: Excessive alcohol consumption weakens the immune system, making individuals more vulnerable.

Symptoms of Intestinal Tuberculosis:

  1. Abdominal Pain: Persistent pain in the abdomen, often crampy in nature.
  2. Unintended Weight Loss: Significant weight loss without trying.
  3. Fatigue: Persistent tiredness and lack of energy.
  4. Diarrhea: Frequent loose or watery stools.
  5. Fever: Low-grade fever that persists for weeks.
  6. Loss of Appetite: Decreased desire to eat.
  7. Nausea and Vomiting: Feeling nauseous and vomiting may occur.
  8. Blood in Stool: Stool may contain blood, which can appear bright red or dark.
  9. Constipation: Difficulty passing stool or infrequent bowel movements.
  10. Abdominal Swelling: Swelling or bloating of the abdomen may occur.
  11. Night Sweats: Excessive sweating, especially at night.
  12. Anemia: Low red blood cell count leading to fatigue and weakness.
  13. Malaise: Overall feeling of discomfort or unease.
  14. Joint Pain: Pain and stiffness in the joints.
  15. Rectal Pain: Pain in the rectal area, especially during bowel movements.
  16. Mucus in Stool: Stool may contain mucus, appearing slimy.
  17. Loss of Muscle Mass: Decrease in muscle size and strength.
  18. Dehydration: Reduced fluid levels in the body due to diarrhea.
  19. Pallor: Paleness of the skin due to anemia.
  20. Abdominal Tenderness: Pain or discomfort in the abdomen upon touch.

Diagnostic Tests for Intestinal Tuberculosis:

  1. Mantoux Tuberculin Skin Test: A small amount of TB protein is injected under the skin to check for a reaction.
  2. Chest X-ray: To check for signs of tuberculosis in the lungs.
  3. Sputum Culture: Examination of mucus coughed up from the lungs to detect TB bacteria.
  4. Blood Tests: To detect antibodies or proteins produced in response to TB infection.
  5. Colonoscopy: A flexible tube with a camera is inserted into the rectum to examine the colon for signs of TB.
  6. Biopsy: Removal of a small tissue sample from the intestines for examination under a microscope.
  7. CT Scan: Detailed images of the abdomen to look for abnormalities.
  8. Stool Culture: Examination of stool samples for TB bacteria.
  9. Endoscopy: A camera attached to a flexible tube is used to examine the intestines.
  10. PCR Test: Polymerase chain reaction test to detect TB DNA in samples.
  11. Ultrasound: Imaging technique that uses sound waves to visualize the abdomen.
  12. Lymph Node Biopsy: Removal of lymph node tissue for examination.
  13. Sigmoidoscopy: Examination of the lower part of the colon using a flexible tube.
  14. Gastrointestinal Imaging: Various imaging techniques to visualize the gastrointestinal tract.
  15. Tuberculin Skin Test: Injection of TB proteins under the skin to check for a delayed hypersensitivity reaction.
  16. Ascitic Fluid Analysis: Examination of fluid buildup in the abdomen for signs of TB.
  17. Peritoneoscopy: Examination of the abdominal cavity using a thin, flexible tube.
  18. Fecal Occult Blood Test: Screening test to detect hidden blood in stool samples.
  19. Stool Antigen Test: Detection of TB antigens in stool samples.
  20. Serological Tests: Blood tests to detect antibodies against TB bacteria.

Non-Pharmacological Treatments for Intestinal Tuberculosis:

  1. Dietary Changes: Consuming a nutritious diet rich in vitamins and minerals to support the immune system.
  2. Hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration from diarrhea.
  3. Rest: Getting adequate rest to help the body fight off the infection.
  4. Stress Management: Practicing relaxation techniques to reduce stress levels.
  5. Physical Activity: Engaging in gentle exercise to maintain strength and mobility.
  6. Proper Hygiene: Following good hygiene practices to prevent the spread of infection.
  7. Avoiding Alcohol and Tobacco: Limiting or avoiding alcohol and tobacco to support overall health.
  8. Psychological Support: Seeking counseling or therapy to cope with the emotional impact of the illness.
  9. Supportive Care: Receiving support from family, friends, or support groups.
  10. Complementary Therapies: Exploring alternative therapies such as acupuncture or massage for symptom relief.
  11. Monitoring Symptoms: Keeping track of symptoms and reporting any changes to healthcare providers.
  12. Self-Care Practices: Taking steps to promote self-care and well-being during treatment.
  13. Education: Learning about the condition and treatment options to make informed decisions.
  14. Home Remedies: Using natural remedies such as herbal teas or essential oils for symptom management.
  15. Social Support: Seeking assistance from social services or community organizations if needed.
  16. Patient Education: Providing information and resources to help patients understand and manage their condition.
  17. Nutritional Counseling: Working with a dietitian to develop a personalized nutrition plan.
  18. Monitoring for Complications: Keeping an eye out for potential complications and seeking prompt medical attention if necessary.
  19. Follow-Up Care: Attending regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers.

Drugs Used in the Treatment of Intestinal Tuberculosis:

The treatment of intestinal tuberculosis typically involves a combination of antibiotics to kill the TB bacteria. Commonly used drugs include:

  1. Isoniazid
  2. Rifampicin
  3. Pyrazinamide
  4. Ethambutol
  5. Streptomycin
  6. Levofloxacin
  7. Moxifloxacin
  8. Bedaquiline
  9. Delamanid
  10. Linezolid

Surgeries for Intestinal Tuberculosis:

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat complications of intestinal tuberculosis or to remove damaged tissue. Common surgical procedures include:

  1. Bowel resection: Removing a portion of the intestines affected by tuberculosis.
  2. Strictureplasty: Repairing strictures or narrowing of the intestines caused by scarring from tuberculosis.
  3. Abscess drainage: Draining fluid or pus from an abscess that has formed as a result of the infection.

Preventive Measures for Intestinal Tuberculosis:

Preventing intestinal tuberculosis involves taking steps to reduce the risk of exposure to TB bacteria and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Preventive measures include:

  1. Avoiding close contact with people who have active tuberculosis.
  2. Getting vaccinated with the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, especially in high-risk areas.
  3. Practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  4. Ensuring adequate nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight to support the immune system.
  5. Seeking prompt medical attention if you have symptoms of tuberculosis or have been exposed to someone with the infection.

When to See a Doctor:

It’s important to see a doctor if you experience symptoms of intestinal tuberculosis or have been in close contact with someone who has active tuberculosis. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and spread of the infection. You should seek medical attention if you experience:

  1. Persistent abdominal pain or cramping
  2. Chronic diarrhea or rectal bleeding
  3. Unexplained weight loss
  4. Fever and night sweats
  5. Fatigue or loss of appetite
  6. Persistent cough or difficulty breathing
  7. Swelling or lumps in the abdomen
  8. Changes in bowel habits
  9. Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal swelling
  10. Any other concerning symptoms that persist or worsen over time.


Intestinal tuberculosis is a serious condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. By understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and preventive measures, individuals can take steps to protect themselves and reduce the risk of complications associated with this infection. If you experience symptoms of intestinal tuberculosis or have been exposed to someone with active tuberculosis, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly. With proper care and management, intestinal tuberculosis can be effectively treated, improving overall health and quality of life.


Disclaimer: Each person’s journey is unique, treatment plan, life style, food habit, hormonal condition, immune system, chronic disease condition, previous medical  history is also unique. So always seek the best advice from a qualified medical professional or health care provider before trying any treatments to ensure to find out the best plan for you. This guide is for general information and educational purposes only. If you or someone are suffering from this disease condition bookmark this website or share with someone who might find it useful! Boost your knowledge and stay ahead in your health journey. Thank you for giving your valuable time to read the article.