Tuberculosis Skin Testing (PPD)
A primary method of testing for the presence of a tuberculosis infection is called a PPD skin test. PPD, or purified protein derivative, is used to assess whether your body produces a reaction that would signify the existence of tuberculosis bacteria.
This form of testing requires two separate appointments with the doctor. The initial visit is when the actual tuberculosis skin testing takes place. The patient receives a small injection of PPD just below the surface of the skin.
The second visit to the doctor needs to be scheduled for two to three days after the first. At this appointment, the injection site will be examined to determine your body’s reaction to the PPD. If the area is not swollen or only slightly swollen, the skin testing is considered negative for tuberculosis, which means that you are not infected. If the area is considerably swollen, it is considered a positive result for a tuberculosis infection. But that does not necessarily mean the infection is active or will worsen.
Tuberculosis is a common, but potentially life threatening, bacterial infection of the lungs. It spreads through moisture from an infected person's coughing, talking or sneezing. But unlike most other infections, the majority of people infected with tuberculosis do not suffer from any symptoms of the disease as the infected cells can remain dormant for many years. Only about five to 10 percent of infected people have cells that multiply and cause sickness.
Certain people may be at a higher risk of acquiring tuberculosis. Risk factors for this disease include a lowered immunity, prolonged contact with an infected person, illegal drug use, working in a setting where tuberculosis is common and a number of other factors.
Tuberculosis is usually treated with medication that may be needed for six to 12 months. Preventive drug therapy may be used for infections that are not yet active. Active cases may require a variety of daily medications. Since the tuberculosis bacteria grow so slowly, the long treatment must be completed in order to successfully treat the disease. Treatment may be different for people with drug-resistant infections or those who have HIV or AIDS.
A blood draw, otherwise known as venipuncture, is the process of taking blood from a vein to be tested in a laboratory. One blood sample can be tested for numerous conditions. Blood draws can be valuable in identifying potential health issues before symptoms even arise. They may also be helpful in securing a diagnosis when symptoms are present. Blood draws can aid in the monitoring of a condition and in the evaluation of how well it is responding to treatment, too.
Blood draws are used to measure the levels of a variety of substances within your blood. There are normal ranges for each of these substances that the majority of the population falls into. However, if your results are determined to be abnormal, it means that for one or more of these substances, your levels were found to be either above or below this normal range. This may be an indication of an illness or disease or it may simply reflect a medication you are taking, a dietary imbalance or some other life issue. If an abnormal result returns from the lab, your doctor will discuss the findings with you and most likely recommend further testing to determine its cause and a diagnosis if necessary.
The veins of the arm are typically the best location for a blood draw, so it is frequently performed at either the inner elbow or back of the hand. Once the skin in the area has been cleaned, an elastic band is tied around the upper arm to create extra volume in the blood of the lower arm. The patient may be asked to make a fist as well. A needle that is connected to tubing and a collection vial will be inserted into the vein. The needle may cause a pinching sensation and some minor discomfort. After the necessary amount of blood has been drawn, the needle will be removed and the injection site will be covered with a bandage. The patient should apply pressure to the site for a few minutes to bring an end to any bleeding. The blood sample taken will be sent to a laboratory for processing and your doctor should have results several days later.
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