In the absence of these clues, TB is less likely. However, always take a clear history and examine the child carefully. There may be clues to other diagnoses, such as asthma or an inhaled foreign body. Note the nutritional state of the child and look for signs of HIV infection (see Chapter 7). Examine the chest.There may be unexpected findings, such as consolidation or pleural effusion. A child with these abnormalities who does not look acutely unwell (e.g. no signs of respiratory distress such as tachypnoea) and has not recently had antibiotics is more likely to have TB rather than the more common bacterial pneumonias. Finally, do not forget to examine the heart. Otherwise children with cardiac failure due to congenital heart disease, rheumatic heart disease or cardiomyopathy may be misdiagnosed as having PTB.
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If you suffer with asthma, you will no doubt be familiar with the uncomfortable sensations as your bronchial tubes begin to narrow and your muscles around them start to tighten. A sticky mucus known as phlegm begins to produce and increase within your bronchial tubes and you begin to wheeze, cough and struggle to breathe.