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How is tuberculosis (TB) treated?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Antibiotics cure tuberculosis (TB) in 95 percent of cases. If you are infected with TB but show no symptoms (known as latent tuberculosis), your doctor may prescribe a nine-month course of the antibiotic isoniazid. If you have active tuberculosis disease, you will probably have to take a mixture of up to four antibiotics - usually isoniazid, pyrazinamide, ethambutol (Myambutol), and rifampin (Rifadin) - although some of these may be combined into one pill. You may have to stay in the hospital for two weeks at the beginning of treatment to prevent spreading the disease while you're contagious. You may need surgery to drain pus that can accumulate as a result of the infection, or if you are infected with a drug-resistant strain of TB. Rarely, you may need surgery to remove part of your lung.

Tuberculosis (TB) is treated with antibiotics. People with active TB are often treated with multiple antibiotics because some forms of TB are highly resistant to commonly used antibiotics. For active TB, a sputum (spit) sample will be cultured to determine what antibiotic will best kill the bacteria. People with non-active TB, also known as latent TB, also take antibiotics to kill the bacteria. There are several different antibiotic regimens that are used to treat TB.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.