Tuberculosis Treatment Options

In 1995, 23,000 cases of tuberculosis (TB) were reported in the United States. People who are already sick with AIDS or hepatitis are more susceptible to TB.

See your doctor. TB requires prescription medicine and diligent medical care. There is no homeopathic or over-the-counter treatment for TB.

Take medications prescribed by your doctor. They may include rifampin, isonizad (INH), ethambutol, pyrazinmide, and other antituberculous drugs. You will need to take them for at least six months.

Stay inside your house, except when you require outside medical care. If you must go out, wear a special breathing mask given to you by your doctor or health department.

Understand that because TB is a communicable disease, you are required by law to stay in isolation while you are infectious. The penalty for not staying at home ranges from mandatory hospitalization to imprisonment.

Get plenty of fresh air. Keep your windows open, or consider an air filtration system for your house. Avoid airborne irritants such as secondhand smoke, strong-smelling household cleaners and insecticides.

Take extra vitamin B-6, as ordered by your doctor. B-6 helps the liver counteract the side effects of the antituberculous medicine.

Eat a healthful diet rich in vitamins, minerals, calcium, protein and fiber.

Submit to a monthly liver function test to see how your liver is metabolizing the antituberculous medication.

Give your health care worker a sputum sample every four weeks, or as requested. The sputum will be “cultured” to determine if active TB is still present. This helps your doctor decide how long you must continue your drug therapy.