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Side Effects of Tuberculosis Medicine

By K.T. Solis ; Updated July 27, 2017

Tuberculosis is a disease that is caused by bacteria. The disease is spread to other people when an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing germs into the air. Tuberculosis primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other body organs. A person can become infected with one of two types of TB, active or latent. Active TB means that a person has been infected with tuberculosis and shows symptoms of the disease. Someone with Active TB is contagious to others. Latent TB means that a person is infected with the TB germ but does not suffer from any symptoms. It also means that the person is unable to spread the disease to others.

Types of Medication

Tuberculosis is usually treated through the use of a combination of several antibiotics. Doctors prescribe this combination in order to effectively combat the disease. This method of treatment also ensures that the tuberculosis bacteria do not develop the ability to resist medication. The medication is administered to the patient for at least six months. Some patients will receive about 12 months of antibiotics. Ethambutol; Pyrazinamide; Rifampin, or RIF; and Isoniazid, or INH, are the antibiotics most often prescribed for active tuberculosis. Patients with latent tuberculosis will be prescribed INH, which they take for six months.

Minor Side Effects

As with taking any prescription medicine, people receiving TB antibiotics may experience minor side effects, including orange saliva, urine or tears. Women who take birth control pills or use implants will need to use other preventative measures since antibiotics decrease the effectiveness of these forms of contraceptive. Patients who are prescribed tuberculosis antibiotics often find themselves more sensitive to sunlight.and should use an effective sunscreen in order to prevent sunburns.

Serious Side Effects

Some people may experience more serious side effects that require emergency medical attention. If someone experiences nausea, vomiting or dizziness, she needs to contact the physician as soon as possible. Other patients may experience blurred vision or abdominal pain. Still others may suffer from ringing in the ears or even hearing loss. Sore joints and numbness around the mouth, finger, or toes are other serious side effects that require immediate medical attention. Further side effects may include a fever that lasts for more than three days, jaundice, bleeding and bruising.

Side Effects Associated With Other Medicines and Alcohol

People on TB medication should tell their doctors of any other medications they are taking because tuberculosis antibiotics could interfere with the effectiveness of other medicines. Other medications can also interact with the tuberculosis antibiotics, resulting in serious side effects. Anyone who is prescribed antibiotics for the purpose of treating tuberculosis should not consume alcohol while receiving treatment for the disease.

Importance of Taking Prescribed Medication

Tuberculosis can be cured, but only if the patient takes the antibiotic medication as prescribed by the doctor. If a patient does not take medication, he or she can die. On the other hand, if the patient stops taking the medication or skips it because he or she feels better, the tuberculosis can return. The recurrence of the tuberculosis can make it more difficult to treat.

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