ZocdocAnswersShould I still take medication for my tuberculosis if it is not active?

Question

Should I still take medication for my tuberculosis if it is not active?

Apparently I have tuberculosis but it is not active in my system because I am not showing any symptoms. My doctor still thinks I should take this medication to make sure it doesn't become active but there are side effects. Will I be okay if I don't take the medication?

Answer

Tuberculosis as you probably known is a serious bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs. After a person has been infected with the bacteria, it tends to go dormant without symptoms and is typically only picked up by a screening test for exposure. This test is known as the "PPD" test, and is typically performed at a physical examination with your primary care doctor. I suspect that this test became positive, which is why your doctor is recommending treatment. Tuberculosis that is not active should definitely be treated. The treatment takes a while (about 9 months) and the medication that is commonly used does have some side effects. However, the risk of having the tuberculosis convert from not active to active status is considerable. Once active, tuberculosis is very serious and requires multiple simultaneous medications in order to treat. Also, people with active tuberculosis are highly contagious, which means they must remain away from public spaces, which can affect employment. I highly recommend that you follow your primary care doctor's recommendations on taking medication to treat your inactive tuberculosis. If you have concerns about the treatment length or side effects, talk to your doctor again, and they will be happy to answer all of your questions.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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