Tuberculosis: TB

Treatment of tuberculosis

In most cases TB can be cured by taking tablets for at least six months.

Most people who have TB will begin treatment by taking at least four different types of tablets, which may be reduced after several months.

Taking tablets

It's important to take the drugs as instructed and for the full treatment.

Even if you feel better you should keep taking your tablets as there can still be active TB germs in your body.

The tablets are usually given to you by a health care worker either daily or three times a week, depending on whether you have any underlying chronic illnesses, the type of TB and where you are infected.

It's best to take the tablets at the same time every day and on an empty stomach half an hour before meals or bedtime. 

You should take the tablets with milk, water or juice.

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking TB medication as it increases the risk of serious liver problems. 

You should eat healthy food and get enough rest. 

Where you will be treated

If you have lung TB or extensive disease you may need to be admitted to hospital for the first few weeks of treatment.

You may be infectious for a month or so so you should limit your contacts until the doctor says you are no longer infectious.

Most patients who are no longer infectious live at home and continue as normal, including contact with people and children.

You can continue your regular activities and return to work as long as you take your medication.

Resistant TB

Sometimes TB germs are resistant and tablets will not kill the germs.

If this happens, you will be given combinations of other medications.

Resistant TB is harder to cure and takes more time to control, but most people with resistant TB can be treated.

Your doctor will make sure specific tests are done to check for health resistance.

Drug resistant TB

You can develop drug resistant TB if you don't take the medication as prescribed. 

If you have untreated drug resistant TB of the lungs or throat you can spread those drug resistant germs.

Side effects and other medication

Most people do not experience any problems but you may have side effects.

Tell your doctor or health care worker if you have unexplained illness or any of the following symptoms happen:

  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • jaundice - yellow skin or eyes, dark urine
  • unexplained fever or tiredness
  • tingling or numbness of hands or feet or joint pains
  • skin rash, itching or bruising
  • blurred vision or colour blindness to red or green.

You should tell your doctor if you are taking any other medication especially any of the following:

  • contraceptives
  • diabetic tablets
  • anti-epilepsy drugs
  • anti-coagulation tablets.

One of the drugs, Rifampicin causes can turn your urine, sweat and tears to pink/orange.

This is normal and causes no problems if you wear contact lenses. 

Monthly check-ups

While you are taking the medication you must visit a TB clinic doctor monthly.

They will check your weight and general health, ensure your sputum has cleared of germs and your chest x-ray is improving.

They will also check to see if you are having any other side effects.

For more information, contact the TB clinic in your area.

Other languages

Preventive treatment for latent TB infection

LTBI Arabic translation (Adobe PDF document - 147KB)
LTBI Bahasa Indonesian translation (Adobe PDF document - 33KB)
LTBI Dari translation (Adobe PDF document - 118KB)
LTBI Hazaragi translation (Adobe PDF document - 117KB)
LTBI Swahili translation (Adobe PDF document - 84KB)
LTBI Somali translation (Adobe PDF document - 85KB)
LTBI Filipino translation (Adobe PDF document - 90KB)
LTBI Tamil translation  (Adobe PDF document - 90KB)
LTBI Vietnamese translation (Adobe PDF document - 153KB)

Treatment for TB

TB treatment Arabic translation  (Adobe PDF document - 412KB)
TB treatment Burmese translation  (Adobe PDF document - 163KB)
TB treatment Dari translation  (Adobe PDF document - 535KB)
TB treatment Farsi translation  (Adobe PDF document - 411KB)
TB treatment Filipino translation (Adobe PDF document - 84KB)
TB treatment Hazaragi translation  (Adobe PDF document - 327KB)
TB treatment Indonesian translation  (Adobe PDF document - 166KB)
TB treatment Swahili translation  (Adobe PDF document - 146KB)
TB treatment Somali translation (Adobe PDF document - 82KB)
TB treatment Tamil translation  (Adobe PDF document - 80KB)
TB treatment Vietnamese translation (Adobe PDF document - 183KB)

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Last updated: 12 May 2016

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