Tuberculosis (Latent TB): Care Instructions

Skip to the navigation

Your Care Instructions

The lungs

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 the bacteria overcome your body's defences, the disease becomes active. 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 4 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.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Take your medicine with food to help avoid an upset stomach.
  • If you forget to take your medicine, take the dose as soon as you can if it's the same day. Do not take two doses at the same time. If the day has passed, then take your next scheduled dose. Tell your doctor or public health worker that you missed a dose so he or she can adjust your treatment schedule.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether it's safe to drink alcohol. Alcohol may interact with your medicine and cause side effects.
  • If you don't have DOT, there are things you can do to help remind you to take your medicine:
    • Take your medicine at the same time every day.
    • Set a reminder alarm.
    • Use a pillbox.
    • Put a reminder note on your mirror or refrigerator.
    • Mark a calendar after you take your medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • You have new bruises or blood spots under your skin.
  • You have a rash.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You are coughing for more than 2 weeks.
  • You have new fatigue, or your fatigue is worse.
  • You have a new or increasing yellow tint to your skin or the whites of your eyes.
  • You have new or worse numbness or tingling.
  • You have no appetite.
  • You have head and body aches.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter A712 in the search box to learn more about "Tuberculosis (Latent TB): Care Instructions".