Treatment of Tuberculosis

Updated at: Mar 16, 2012
Treatment of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis Treatment - Medications form the cornerstone for the treatment of TB. Some of the commonly used medications for treatment of TB include Isoniazid, Rifampin, Ethambutol, and Pyrazinamide. You will be prescribed multiple medications for

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Communicable DiseasesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Feb 06, 2012

Tuberculosis, in most cases, can be cured with medications.. Medications form the cornerstone for treatment of tuberculosis.

Medications for TB  

Some of the commonly used medications for treatment of TB include Isoniazid, Rifampin, Ethambutol and Pyrazinamide. Unlike most other bacterial infections in which one or two drugs are prescribed for a short duration (5-7 days), treatment of TB needs multiple medicines for months. Multiple medicines are given to prevent the emergence of drug resistance and treatment failure. Most cases of TB are given a combination of 3 or 4 drugs for 2 to 3 months, which is followed by 2 or 3 medications for few more months. Single medicines are never given as the TB bacilli develop resistance to the drug quite rapidly.


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Duration of treatment: Most people improve after a few weeks upon starting treatment, but the TB bacteria are still active in their bodies. Complete cure of infection needs months of treatment (in most cases 6-9 months). Your doctor will recommend drugs and the length of treatment depending on your age, overall health, possible drug resistance, the form of TB (latent or active) and its location in the body. Taking all the recommended drugs in the recommended dose for the entire duration of treatment is important for cure. The main cause of treatment failure is non-compliance (missing dose, not taking medications for the recommended duration etc) with treatment.

Drug resistant TB: Drug resistant TB has increased considerably in the past few years. Some factors that contribute to drug resistance include not taking medications as recommended, not completing the treatment and having HIV/AIDS. Drug-resistant TB does not respond to the standard medications, needs more number of medications, is much harder to treat and has a higher risk of death than non-drug-resistant TB.

Latent TB: If you have latent TB, the doctor may prescribe just one or two types of TB drugs for a few months.

Most patients do not need admission to hospital for treatment. Medication for TB can cause serious complications. Discuss with your doctor the possible side effects of TB drugs and consult your doctor immediately if you experience any of them. If you are pregnant, inform your doctor as some drugs increase the risk of complications in the baby. TB must be treated urgently in pregnancy as the disease may progress rapidly and increase the risk of TB complication for the mother and the baby.


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