Causes, Symptoms and Prevention Of Intestinal Tuberculosis.

The 'silent' rise of abdominal Tuberculosis

According to Healthline – Tuberculosis (TB) bacteria usually attack the lungs. However, TB bacteria can also attack any part of the body, including the intestines. This condition is called intestinal tuberculosis.

One study explains that gastrointestinal (digestive) tuberculosis accounts for about 1-3% of tuberculosis cases worldwide. This can occur in the context of active TB or extra-pulmonary TB.

Intestinal tuberculosis disease is quite dangerous, as it can cause complications, such as intestinal rupture leading to death. Find out more in this article.

Causes of intestinal tuberculosisStomach / Intestinal / Abdominal Tuberculosis - Causes, Symptoms,  Diagnosis, Treatment


In addition to pulmonary tuberculosis, there is also extrapulmonary tuberculosis, which means that the infection with M. tuberculosis bacteria occurs outside the lungs. For example, TB bacteria that invade the stomach or gastrointestinal system, such as the stomach and intestines.

Before finding out how to treat it, it’s worth looking at the causes of intestinal TB.

The spread of tuberculosis is principally through the air or when the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria enter through the blood. Meanwhile, intestinal tuberculosis is caused by the following things, such as:

The entry of fluid from the lung that has been infected with TB bacteria into the intestine

Transfer of bacteria to the intestine from lymph nodes adjacent to the organ

Through dairy products contaminated with M. bovis bacteria

You should know that intestinal tuberculosis is the sixth most common disease.

Symptoms of intestinal tuberculosis

Symptoms of gastrointestinal (digestive) tuberculosis depend on the area infected.

Here are some possible symptoms of intestinal tuberculosis:


No appetite

Abdominal pain

Change in bowel habit


Nausea and vomiting

Weight loss

Rectal bleeding

Abdominal mass

Blood in the faeces

However, not everyone with intestinal TB will have the above symptoms. In fact, there are also some sufferers who do not experience any TB symptoms at all.

Diagnosis of intestinal TB

Diagnosis of intestinal TB is quite complicated for medical personnel. The reason is that the symptoms of each patient can vary or resemble other diseases. For example, diseases caused by different bacterial infections.

Therefore, a thorough diagnosis needs to be done for more accurate results. There are several examinations that need to be passed to diagnose intestinal tuberculosis, namely:

Physical examination of the symptoms, as well as tracing if the patient has a history of contact with TB patients.

The doctor will palpate the abdominal area. A typical sign of this disease, the abdomen will usually feel like a chessboard.

Laboratory tests, endoscopy, tissue biopsy, and radiology.

Colonoscopy procedure, to detect abnormal tissue growth in the intestines.

Histopathological examination


Treatment of intestinal tuberculosis

Intestinal tuberculosis is not deadly, as long as diagnosis and treatment are not delayed. In addition, patients also need to get TB treatment according to the doctor’s recommendations.

The treatment for intestinal tuberculosis is usually the same as for pulmonary tuberculosis. However, the doctor may prescribe other medications if the tuberculosis causes certain complications.

In general, intestinal tuberculosis treatment includes:

1. TB medicines





Until recently, intestinal TB treatment was also carried out for a period of 6 months. However, in some cases, the treatment time may be longer, depending on the complications.

Further large-scale studies on the treatment of intestinal TB still need to be conducted.

Before taking antibiotic drugs, the doctor will first check liver function. This is because some TB drugs have hepatotoxic properties.

Patients taking TB drugs should be aware of symptoms of liver disorders, such as:

Loss of appetite

Dark urine colour

Fever that lasts more than three days

Unexplained nausea or vomiting


Abdominal pain

Consult your doctor immediately if you experience any of the above symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat these conditions.

2. Surgery

Intestinal TB may require surgery especially if there are complications, such as perforation (a hole in the intestine), abscess, fistula, bleeding, or severe intestinal obstruction or blockage.

The form of surgery in intestinal tuberculosis usually adapts to the patient’s condition and needs. However, the most common type of surgery is removal of the infected part of the intestine.

If you suspect that you have been experiencing symptoms of tuberculosis, the right step is to go to the doctor for a more thorough examination. You also need to be careful of the dangers of intestinal tuberculosis complications, such as:

Upper and lower gastrointestinal bleeding

Fistula in different places

Obstruction of the intestinal lumen

Narrowed bowel

Rupture of the intestine



Prevention of intestinal tuberculosis

As this disease is quite dangerous and contagious, you need to take preventive measures, such as:

1. BCG vaccine

The most common preventive measure is the BCG vaccine. This vaccine can prevent tuberculosis (TB) in adults as well as children who have never had the disease.

This vaccine is recommended if you live or are in close contact with people with tuberculosis. In Indonesia, the BCG vaccine has become a mandatory programme from the government given to infants under 2 months of age.

2. If infected, take care

If you are infected, take the following steps until your doctor declares you cured, such as:

Wear a mask if you have to meet or do activities outside the house;

Cover your mouth when sneezing, coughing, and laughing;

Do not dispose of phlegm or spit carelessly

Pay attention to good air circulation.

Sleep separately and do not use the same tableware.

Do not sleep in the same room with other people until your doctor says your TB is no longer contagious.

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