Difference Between Tuberculosis Lungs and Healthy Lungs

The infectious disease tuberculosis, also known as TB, mostly affects the lungs but can also affect other areas of the body. The bacterium that causes it, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is released into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. Inhaled bacteria have the ability to settle in the lungs and grow, resulting in a variety of symptoms and perhaps serious consequences if treatment is not received.If tuberculosis is not identified and treated in a timely manner, it can cause substantial harm to the structure and function of the lungs. It is essential to comprehend the distinctions between healthy and TB-affected lungs in order to recognize, treat, and prevent this infectious disease at an early stage. With advances in medical science and public health initiatives, efforts are ongoing to control and eventually eliminate TB as a global health threat. Reduced tuberculosis prevalence can improve respiratory health globally by utilizing effective treatment, supportive care, and preventive measures like vaccinations and infection control.

Comparative Analysis: Healthy Lungs vs. Tuberculosis-Affected Lungs

Below is the difference between healthy lungs and tuberculosis affected lungs in the tabular format:

Aspect Healthy Lungs Tuberculosis-Affected Lungs
Anatomy Clear airways, intact alveoli, minimal inflammation Presence of granulomas, cavities, fibrosis, necrosis
Function Efficient gas exchange, normal breathing Impaired gas exchange, shortness of breath
Symptoms None Persistent cough, chest pain, fatigue, weight loss
Imaging Clear chest X-ray and CT scan Infiltrates, cavities, granulomas on imaging
Pulmonary Function Normal capacity and function Reduced capacity and impaired function
Treatment None required, preventive measures Antibiotic therapy, monitoring, supportive care
Prognosis Excellent with good lifestyle choices Variable; dependent on early diagnosis and treatment

Browse best Scrubs Collection

Healthy Lungs

Healthy lungs are essential for the normal operation of the respiratory system, which provides oxygen to the bloodstream and removes carbon dioxide. They are made up of complicated structures that maximize the exchange of gasses between the air and the blood.

Characteristics of healthy Lungs

  • Clear Airways: The trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles are free of obstructions, allowing air to flow smoothly.
  • Alveoli Integrity: Alveoli are tiny air sacs where gas exchange occurs. In healthy lungs, alveoli are elastic and their walls are thin to facilitate efficient gas exchange.
  • Minimal Inflammation: Healthy lungs have minimal inflammation and the tissues are not thickened or scarred.
  • Efficient Blood Supply: Pulmonary blood vessels are well-maintained, ensuring efficient transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Symptoms of healthy lungs 

  • Normal Breathing: Unobstructed airways ensure efficient ventilation.
  • No Chronic Cough: Healthy individuals do not suffer from persistent coughing.
  • Optimal Oxygen Levels: Efficient gas exchange maintains normal blood oxygen levels.
  • Good Exercise Tolerance: Healthy lungs support physical activity without undue shortness of breath.

Treatment and diagnosis is not needed for a healthy Lungs

Explore All Women's Scrub

Tuberculosis Lungs

Although its primary effect is on the lungs, tuberculosis can spread to other organs if left untreated. Usually, the infection begins in the alveoli as a result of breathing in Mycobacterium tuberculosis droplets. The bacteria in the lungs can either become active and cause disease (active TB) or remain dormant for years without showing any signs (latent TB).Tuberculosis primarily targets the lungs, causing significant structural and functional damage. 

Characteristics of Tuberculosis Lungs

Key characteristics of TB-affected lungs include

  • Granulomas: TB bacteria cause the formation of granulomas, which are clusters of immune cells that form to contain the infection. These granulomas can cause significant lung tissue damage.
  • Cavitation: Advanced TB can lead to the formation of cavities in the lungs, which are hollow spaces resulting from the destruction of lung tissue.
  • Fibrosis: Chronic TB infection can cause fibrosis or scarring of lung tissue, leading to reduced elasticity and impaired lung function.
  • Inflammation and Necrosis: Persistent inflammation and necrosis (tissue death) are common, further compromising lung function.


  • Persistent Cough: Often lasting more than three weeks, sometimes producing blood (hemoptysis).
  • Chest Pain: Discomfort due to inflammation and tissue damage.
  • Shortness of Breath: Reduced lung function limits the ability to breathe deeply.
  • Fatigue and Weight Loss: Chronic infection can lead to systemic symptoms, including fatigue and weight loss.


  • Chest X-ray: May show infiltrates, cavities, or calcified nodules indicative of TB infection.
  • CT Scan: Provides detailed images showing the extent of granulomas, cavities, and fibrosis.
  • Sputum Test: Positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Shop the Best Lab Coats from Here!

Treatment and Prognosis

Treatment for TB involves:

  • Antibiotic Therapy: Typically a combination of drugs such as isoniazid, rifampin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide over a course of 6-9 months.
  • Monitoring and Follow-Up: Regular check-ups to monitor the effectiveness of treatment and ensure the infection is fully eradicated.
  • Supportive Care: Addressing symptoms such as cough, pain, and nutritional support.
Check out More Articles
Difference Between Cartilage And Bone
Difference Between Endocrine And Exocrine Glands
Difference Between Cell Wall And Cell Membrane


What are common signs of healthy lung function?

Normal breathing without effort, no persistent coughing or wheezing, good stamina during physical activity, and no chest pain or discomfort.

What causes tuberculosis in the lungs?

Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which spreads through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.

What are the common symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis?

Persistent cough lasting more than three weeks, coughing up blood or sputum, chest pain, fatigue, weight loss, fever, and night sweats.

How is tuberculosis diagnosed?

Diagnosis involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, chest X-rays, sputum tests for Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and sometimes CT scans or bronchoscopy.

What is the standard treatment for tuberculosis?

The standard treatment involves a combination of antibiotics taken for 6-9 months. Common medications include isoniazid, rifampin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide.