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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Tuberculosis (TB) - Medications

Active tuberculosis (TB)

Several antibiotics are used at the same time to treat active tuberculosis (TB) disease. For people who have multidrug-resistant TB, treatment may continue for as long as 24 months. These antibiotics are given as pills or injections.

For active TB, there are different treatment recommendations for children, pregnant women, people who have HIV and TB, and people who have drug-resistant TB.

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Extrapulmonary TB

TB disease that occurs in parts of your body other than the lungs (extrapulmonary TB) usually is treated with the same medicines and for the same length of time as active TB in the lungs (pulmonary TB). But TB throughout the body (miliary TB) or TB that affects the brain or the bones and joints in children may be treated for at least 12 months.

Corticosteroid medicines also may be given in some severe cases to reduce inflammation. They may be helpful for children at risk of central nervous system problems caused by TB and for people who have conditions such as high fever, TB throughout the body (miliary TB), pericarditis, or peritonitis.

Latent TB

One antibiotic usually is used to treat latent TB infection, which cannot be spread to others but can develop into active TB disease. The antibiotic usually is taken for 4 to 9 months.1 Or more than one antibiotic may be taken once a week for 12 weeks.5 For this treatment, a health professional watches you take each dose of antibiotics. Taking every dose of antibiotic helps prevent the TB bacteria from getting resistant to the antibiotics.

Medicine choices

Multiple-drug therapy to treat TB usually involves taking four antibiotics at the same time. This is the standard treatment for active TB.

Other anti-tuberculosis medicines may be used for people with multidrug-resistant TB.

What to think about

If you miss doses of medicine or you stop treatment too soon, your treatment may go on longer or you may have to start over. This can also cause the infection to get worse, or it may lead to antibiotic-resistant infections that are much harder to treat.

Taking all of the medicines is especially important for people who have an impaired immune system. They may be at an increased risk for a relapse because the original TB infection was never cured.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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