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Tuberculosis

Tb

12/01/2005

Question:

I`m actually an actor playing the role of a 15 year old Irish girl in the early 1900`s with consumption (Tb). I`m trying to find out the characteristics of it but struggling. Can you help me to create an accurate portayl? How would they breathe? What sort of cough do they have? Does it effect how they walk etc. The character dies in the play so she is very ill and supposedly looks 10 as she`s so withered. Can you help?

Answer:

If the tuberculosis is a severe as it sounds (enough for her to die of it), it would likely be systemic (i.e. not limited to the lungs). She would be extremely wasted, very fatigued (effort to raise up out of bed would be extremely difficult), short of breath (short, shallow breaths), and frequent and prolonged cough productive occasionally of blood. If it involved her bones (called Pott's disease), she would be hunched over as it commonly involved the vertebrae. The lack of exposure to the sun (she'd be bed bound) and the disease would lead to a sallow complexion.

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Response by:

J Daryl   Thornton, MD, MPH J Daryl Thornton, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University