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Latent tuberculosis (TB) means that you have bacteria in your body that could cause active TB disease. You can't spread the bacteria to other people at this time. But if your immune system can't keep the bacteria from growing, the disease becomes active. People with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop active TB.
With active TB in your lungs, you can spread the disease to others. Active TB is a serious disease.
Latent TB doesn't have any symptoms. You may even be surprised that you have it, since you don't feel sick. It's very important to take your antibiotic medicine as your doctor tells you to. This treatment prevents you from getting active TB. It takes a long time to rid your body of TB. You may be taking medicine for 3 to 9 months. During your treatment you'll see your doctor for tests to see how the medicine is working. Your doctor will help guide you through this long process.
You may have directly observed therapy (DOT). This means that a health care worker watches when you take your medicine. DOT helps you remember to take your medicine. And it helps you complete your treatment as soon as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: January 26, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & W. David Colby IV MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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