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About the treatment

TB is completely curable, and in the UK treatment is free to everyone, regardless of immigration status.

If tests show you have TB, you should be treated as soon as possible. This means you will feel better sooner and will be less likely to pass TB on.

Maybe a family member or close friend can be your ‘treatment buddy’ and remind you to take your medicine. Your TB nurse will also support you through your treatment.

What does TB treatment involve?

You will need to have TB treatment for at least six months, to make sure all the TB bacteria are killed. If you have TB of the lungs or throat, after two weeks of treatment you should no longer be infectious.

Gradually you will start to feel better. This may take weeks, but you will stop feeling sick and tired all the time. Even when you feel better, it’s important to take the full course of your treatment, or you could become ill again.

What medications will I need to take?

Treatment is usually a mixture of four antibiotics. These are:

  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampicin
  • Pyrazinamide
  • Ethambutol

Isoniazid, Rifampicin Pyrazinamide and Ethambutol can all come in one tablet, called Voractiv. Isoniazid, Rifampicin and Pyrazinamide can all come in the same tablet, called Rifater.

After two months of treatment you may change to two antibiotics, Rifampicin and Isoniazid. These can come in a single tablet, called Rifinah.

What are the side effects?

With any medication, it is possible to have side effects. Most are nothing to worry about and will go away. Your TB nurse or doctor should advise you of potential side effects before you start your treatment.

These can include:

  • feeling sick or dizzy
  • skin rashes
  • pins and needles
  • flu like symptoms.

In very few cases people may experience jaundice, which is the yellowing of skin or eyes. If this happens, stop taking your medicine and tell your doctor straight away.

You should always discuss any side effects with your doctor or nurse. It may be possible to change your medication.

What happens if I don’t finish treatment?

Although you may feel better, if you don’t finish treatment the TB bacteria are still in your body.  You could become seriously ill, develop drug-resistant TB or pass TB on to others.  Remember – TB can be fatal.

Finishing treatment is the only way to cure tuberculosis completely.

Finding it hard to stay on treatment?

Taking many different tablets each day can be difficult. There might also be a lot of other pressures on you. If you are having trouble taking your TB tablets regularly, ask your doctor or nurse about directly observed treatment (DOT). Find out more

Treatment for drug-resistant TB

Drug-resistant TB is more difficult to treat than ordinary TB. The medicines used against it have a greater number of side effects, and have to be taken for at least 18 months. If you have drug-resistant TB you are more likely to be admitted to hospital for treatment and may be offered directly observed treatment (DOT) to help you keep taking the medication for as long as needed.
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