When you have active TB, the bacteria are multiplying in your body making you feel sick. You may have symptoms such as cough, weight loss, night sweats and fever. Read more about tuberculosis (TB). TB medicines help to clear TB disease. With treatment, TB can almost always be cured.
You will need to take a combination of TB medicines to clear the infection
- The most common treatment for active TB is isoniazid in combination with 3 other antibiotic medicines – rifampicin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol.
- Each of these antibiotics works in different ways to kill the TB bacteria. TB bacteria are slow to die and a combination is needed for at least 6 months to kill the bacteria. Some people may need to be treated for longer.
- If the medicines are used separately, the TB bacteria can quickly become resistant to these antibiotics.
It’s very important you finish the course of antibiotics
- TB bacteria die very slowly so it's very important that you take the full course of your treatment to be cured.
- You'll need to take treatment for least 6 months – some people may need to be treated for longer.
- People usually begin to feel better 2 to 4 weeks after starting treatment. Even if you feel better after a few weeks on the TB medicines, it doesn't mean all the TB bacteria are dead.
- You can’t catch TB from a person who has been taking the antibiotics for 2 weeks or more.
If you don't take your TB medicines the right way, or stop taking the medicines early:
- Your TB infection may become worse.
- Your infection may become harder to treat and the medicines you are taking may no longer work. This is called drug-resistant TB. Read more about drug resistant TB below.
- You may need to take other medicines that cause more side effects and are less able to remove the infection.
- You may spread the infection to others.
You may need to have tests while you are taking TB medicines
Depending on your medicine plan, your doctor may ask for blood, phlegm, or urine tests while you are having treatment. These tests will show if your TB medicines are working and how your body is handling the medicine. You may also need to have chest X-rays.