Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial infection that involves the lungs but may spread to other organs.
You may have a TB infection but no active disease or symptoms. This means the TB bacteria remains inactive (dormant) in a small area of your lungs. This type of infection may be present for years and is called latent TB.
When you have active TB, you may feel sick or have a cough, lose weight, feel tired, or have a fever or night sweats.
Ask your health care provider whether others with whom you work or live should be tested for TB.
TB germs die very slowly. You will need to take several different pills at different times of the day for 6 months or longer. The only way to get rid of them is to take your TB medicines the way your health care provider has asked you to. This means taking all of your medicines every day.
If you do not take your TB medicines the right way or stop taking the medicines early:
If your health care provider is worried that you may not be taking all the medicines as directed, they may arrange to have someone meet with you every day or a few times a week to watch you take your TB drugs. This is called directly observed therapy.
Women who may be pregnant, who are pregnant, or who are breastfeeding should talk to their health care provider before taking these medicines. If you are using birth control pills, ask your health care provider if your TB medicines can make birth control pills not work as well.
Most people do not have very bad side effects from TB medicines. Problems to watch out for and tell your doctor about include:
Call your doctor or other health care provider if you have:
Tuberculosis - medicines; DOT; Directly observed therapy; TB - medicines
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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