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Tuberculosis (TB) - Topic Overview

People with latent TB may be treated with one antibiotic that they take daily for 9 months or with a combination of antibiotics that they take once a week for 12 weeks while being watched by a health professional. Making sure every dose is taken reduces their risk for getting active TB.

If you miss doses of your medicine, or if you stop taking your medicine too soon, your treatment may fail or have to go on longer. You may have to start your treatment over again. This can also cause the infection to get worse or may lead to an infection that is resistant to antibiotics. This is much harder to treat.

TB can only be cured if you take all the doses of your medicine. A doctor or nurse may have to watch you take it to make sure that you never miss a dose and that you take it the proper way. You may have to go to the doctor's office every day. Or a nurse may come to your home or work. This is called direct observational treatment. It helps people follow all of the instructions and keep up with their treatment, which can be complex and take a long time. Cure rates for TB have greatly improved because of this type of treatment.

If active TB is not treated, it can damage your lungs or other organs and can be deadly. You can also spread TB by not treating an active TB infection.

Learning about tuberculosis (TB):

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

Living with tuberculosis:

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 04, 2013
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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