Tuberculosis Home > Tuberculosis Treatment

If treatment for tuberculosis is administered in a proper and timely manner, it can cure tuberculosis. Treatment consists of taking several different antibiotics to help the body kill all of the tuberculosis bacteria. Along with taking the medications, a person who has active tuberculosis must stay home from school or work to prevent transmission to others. Treatment usually lasts at least 6 months, and sometimes as long as 12 months.

An Introduction to Tuberculosis Treatment

Successful tuberculosis treatment depends on close cooperation between patient and healthcare provider. In most cases, proper treatment with the right antibiotics for the right amount of time will cure tuberculosis (TB).
Treatment for tuberculosis is usually at least 6 months in duration. Sometimes treatment takes as long as 12 months. This is because there are many bacteria that need to be killed. Treatment also involves taking several different antibiotics. Taking several medicines will do a better job of killing all of the bacteria and preventing them from becoming resistant to the medicines (see Drug-Resistant TB).

Medications for Treating Tuberculosis

The most common medicines used for active tuberculosis treatment are:
  • Isoniazid (INH)
  • Rifampin (RIF)
  • Ethambutol
  • Pyrazinamide.
For a person with latent form of the disease, treatment usually consists of isoniazid for at least 6 months.
(Click Tuberculosis Medications for more information about this form of treatment.)

Other Considerations

If you have active tuberculosis of the lungs or throat, you are probably infectious. You need to stay home from work or school so that you don't spread the TB bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) to other people. After a few weeks of treatment, you will feel better and may no longer be infectious to others. Your doctor or nurse will tell you when you can return to work or school or visit with friends.
Having active tuberculosis disease should not stop you from leading a normal life. When you are no longer infectious or feeling sick, you can do the same things you did before you had tuberculosis. The medicine that you are taking as part of your treatment for tuberculosis should not affect your strength, sexual function, or ability to work. If you take your medicine as your doctor or nurse tells you, the medicine will kill all the tuberculosis bacteria. This will keep you from becoming sick again.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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