Tuberculosis | Treatment

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How is tuberculosis treated?

Tuberculosis is treated with antibiotic medicine. The medicine(s) your doctor recommends will depend on your age, your health, whether your TB is active or latent, and whether your TB is drug resistant (meaning that certain medicines won’t work on it).

You will need to take your TB medicine(s) for 6-9 months. Your doctor will tell you exactly how and when to take your medicine, and for how long. It is very important that you follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Keep your medicine in a place where you will always see it. Take it at the same time every day. Don’t skip doses or stop taking your medicine. This could make your TB harder to treat.

What medicines are used to treat tuberculosis?

Common medicines used to treat tuberculosis include the following:

  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampin
  • Ethambutol
  • Pyrazinamide

Depending on your doctor’s recommendations, you may take 1 or more of these medicines. These medicines do not usually cause side effects. However, TB drugs can damage your liver. See the box below for a list of serious side effects.

Don't drink alcohol or take acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol) while taking  TB drugs. Alcohol and acetaminophen can increase the risk of liver problems. Always check with your doctor before you take any other medicine because some drugs interact with TB drugs and can cause side effects.

While taking these medicines, your doctor may want to monitor you every month. For example, you may need to visit your doctor for tests, to get another prescription, and to check for any side effects or problems.

Although side effects from tuberculosis medicine are not common, they can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain, tenderness or soreness
  • Blurry vision or color-blindness
  • Dark (coffee-colored) urine
  • Fever that lasts 3 days or longer
  • Jaundice (the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 11/96

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