Tuberculosis is an infection that caused by a bacteria. This bacteria lives in areas which are highly oxygenated, such as the lungs, kidneys, brain and liver. The bacteria can be present and not be active, called latent tuberculosis. When the bacteria is present and causing symptoms the individual is also contagious and is experiencing active tuberculosis.
Treatment for tuberculosis includes medications such as isoniazid, rifampin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide. Most of these medications are metabolized through the liver so it’s important to avoid drinking alcohol or taking other medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), while in the process of treatment.
Medications are the cornerstone of treatment, but treatment for tuberculosis takes much longer than treating other kinds of bacterial infections. Normally, you might take an antibiotic for seven to 10 days but, treating tuberculosis requires antibacterial treatment for six to nine months to completely destroy the tuberculosis bacterium. The exact drugs and length of treatment your primary care physician will prescribe will depend upon your age, overall health, the form of tuberculosis from which you suffer and any possible drug-resistant bacteria in your system.
Although side effects from the tuberculosis medications are not common, they also may be serious. Symptoms which individuals may experience include, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, blurred vision or colorblindness, loss of appetite, yellow coloring of the eyes or skin, dark urine, fever, rash or itching, tingling or burning in the hands or feet, and tiredness without reason.
If tests show that your tuberculosis infection is latent, meaning you do not have active disease your doctor may recommend preventative therapy to destroy the bacteria. New research indicates that while the previous drug therapy, isoniazid for nine months, was effective compliance with the drug regimen was low because individuals were not experiencing symptoms of the disease and the drug protocol lasted such length of time. New research has indicated that a four-month treatment with risampin will be as effective with a decreased risk to the liver and an improved compliance rate.
Treatment for active tuberculosis will likely involve four different medications given for the first two months and two medications given for the last four to six months. Side effects from all of these medications are listed above and should be considered a significant change in your health status. Individuals who believe they may be suffering from side effects from medications used to treat their tuberculosis should contact their physician as soon as possible.
Individuals who suffer from multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis cannot be cured by the two major tuberculosis drugs on the market today, isoniazid and rifampin. Individuals with drug-resistant tuberculosis will require a cocktail of it leaves for drugs that will be taken for 18 months to two years, and even longer. Even with this extended treatment, many people with these types of tuberculosis may not survive.
MayoClinic: Treatments and Drugs
Partners in Health: Unit 12: Tuberculosis Treatments and Side Effects
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Staying on Track with TB Medication