Treatment for Latent TB Infection (LTBI)
This fact sheet contains information about how latent TB infection (LTBI) is treated and how active TB disease can be prevented.
On this page:
How can I prevent active TB disease?
Why should I take medicine if I don’t feel sick?
What should I know about medicine for LTBI?
What happens if I don’t take the medicine?
What should I do if I’ve had a BCG vaccine?
What if I can’t afford to pay for the pills?
What if I move away?
How can I remember to take my TB medicine?
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Treatment of Latent TB Infection - English (PDF)
Your tests show that you have latent TB infection, or “LTBI.” A small number of TB germs have spread to many parts of your body, such as your lungs, bones, or kidneys.
The TB germs are not hurting you now. They are “asleep” but they are still alive. The TB germs will “sleep” as long as your body can fight them off. When you have LTBI you can’t spread TB to others.
If your body stops fighting off the TB germs, they will “wake up” and start to grow. This can happen to anyone with LTBI at any time. When the germs grow and spread it is called “active TB disease.” People with active TB disease can get very sick and can spread TB to other people.
There are medicines you can take to prevent you from getting active TB disease. Isoniazid (INH) is a common medicine used to treat LTBI. INH kills the “sleeping” TB germs before they have a chance to make you sick. Because the TB germs are strong, it takes many months for the medicine to kill them.
INH works best if you take it every day until your doctor says it is OK to stop. Take your INH without food.
You should see your health care provider once a month while you are taking INH, to make sure your treatment is going well.
INH kills the TB germs in your body before they have a chance to “wake up” and make you sick. Remember, TB germs are easier to kill while they are still “asleep.”
Many people take INH every day without any problems, but there are a few things you should watch for:
Other important points:
If you don’t take INH or if you stop taking your pills too soon, you could become sick with active TB disease. This can happen to anyone with LTBI at any time. Don’t wait for this to happen to you and your family!
In countries where TB is common, many people have a vaccine called BCG. BCG can protect children from TB, but it lasts only a few years.
People who had BCG can get active TB disease! If you’ve had BCG, you can still protect yourself by taking medicine for LTBI.
Ask your doctor or nurse about getting free TB medicine from the Minnesota Department of Health.
If you move to another state or city, tell your health care provider before you move. They can help make sure that you get your TB medicine after you move.
Protect yourself, your family, and your friends from TB –
take all of your TB medicine!
It is very important to take your INH every day. If you miss too many days the medicine might not work. Keep taking it until your doctor says it is OK to stop.
Some ways to help you remember:
If you miss any days, write them down so you can tell your doctor or nurse at your next check-up.
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