Mycobacterial Infections: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Mycobacteria are germs that cause a wide variety of infections, including tuberculosis (TB), bone infections, abscesses, and a type of arthritis. They can infect the lungs, lymph nodes, skin, and other parts of the body. They can also infect open wounds.

Mycobacteria often infect people with AIDS. Depending on where the infection is in the body, some of the symptoms are fever, weight loss, diarrhea, abscesses (pockets of pus), and cough.

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.
  • You may need to take medicine for a long time, sometimes for a couple of years and sometimes for the rest of your life. It is very important that you take the medicine exactly as directed for as long as it takes to clear up your infection or keep you healthy.
  • Depending on where the infection is, you may need surgery. For example, abscesses can be drained. Talk to your doctor about whether surgery is right for you.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have severe trouble breathing, or your skin or nails look grey or blue.

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

  • You have a cough that is new or gets worse.
  • You have unexplained weight loss.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from a wound.
    • Pus draining from a wound.
    • A fever.
  • You have night sweats.
  • You have skin lesions that are new or that get worse.
  • You have new or increased pain in your bones or joints.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have signs of needing more fluids. You have sunken eyes and a dry mouth, and you pass only a little dark urine.

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

  • You have 12 or more loose stools in 24 hours.
  • Your stools are black and tar-like or have streaks of blood.
  • You see pus in your diarrhea.
  • You have a new or higher fever.
  • You have diarrhea and your belly pain or cramps are worse.
  • Your diarrhea does not get better or is more frequent.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: March 3, 2017