Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection which can be fatal if it remains untreated. TB mostly affects the lungs, but can also affect other organs like the kidney, spine and the brain. However, just because someone has the TB bacteria, they may not necessarily fall sick. TB caused due to inactive bacteria is called latent TB whereas active TB bacteria that multiply and cause symptoms is called TB disease.
Treatment for latent TB involves preventive therapy in order to kill the bacteria and stop them from developing into active TB. Isoniazid is an antibiotic and is the most common preventive therapy for latent TB.
Treatment for active TB disease includes a combination of antibacterial medication for a period of 6 to 12 months. Common treatment drugs for active TB disease include isoniazid INH along with rifampin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol. While the effect of the medication can be experiences within the first few weeks, it is important to complete the course of treatment as prescribed by the doctor to prevent a relapse/reinfection.
TB disease that is resistant to the above-mentioned drugs is called drug-resistant TB. This means that some drugs that were initially used to treat the infection are no longer able to fight the bacteria in the body. If the infection is resistant to more than one drug, it’s called multi-drug-resistance TB and is very dangerous. Drug resistant TB requires up to 20 to 30 months of treatment.
Some tips for taking TB medication are follows:
– Take the medicines at the same time everyday
– Ask someone to monitor/check if you’ve taken the medicine everyday
– Reach out to your healthcare provider if you forget to take your pills
– Use a weekly pill dispenser to make sure you do not skip any day
Although it is a lengthy process, it is crucial to get the right treatment for TB to prevent the disease from escalating as well as spreading to those around you.