The goal of treatment is to cure the infection with drugs that fight the TB bacteria. Treatment of active pulmonary TB will always involve a combination of many drugs (usually four drugs). All of the drugs are continued until lab tests show which medicines work best.
The most commonly used drugs include:
Other drugs that may be used to treat TB include:
- Para-aminosalicylic acid
You may need to take many different pills at different times of the day for 1 year or longer. It is very important that you take the pills the way your health care provider instructed.
When people do not take their tuberculosis medications as recommended, the infection becomes much more difficult to treat. The TB bacteria may become resistant to treatment, and sometimes, the drugs no longer help treat the infection. For atypical tuberculosis infections, or drug-resistant strains, other drugs may be used to treat the infection.
When there is a concern that a patient may not take all the medication as directed, a health care provider may need to watch the person take the prescribed drugs. This is called directly observed therapy. In this case, drugs may be given 2 or 3 times per week, as prescribed by a doctor.
You may need to be admitted to a hospital for 2 – 4 weeks to avoid spreading the disease to others until you are no longer contagious.
Your doctor or nurse is required by law to report your TB illness to the local health department. Your health care team will be sure that you receive the best care for your TB.
Most disseminated forms of TB respond well to treatment.
Complications of disseminated TV can include:
- Adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- Lung failure
- Relapse of the disease
Medicines used to treat TB may cause side effects, including liver problems. Other side effects include:
- Changes in vision
- Orange- or brown-colored tears and urine
A vision test may be done before treatment so your doctor can monitor any changes in your eyes’ health over time.
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if you know or suspect that you have been exposed to TB. All forms of TB need prompt evaluation and treatment.
Review Date : 12/1/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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