If you have been diagnosed with tuberculosis, you may wish to ask your physician these additional five questions:
1. What treatment will I be given?
The treatment prescribed by your doctor depends entirely on the acuity of your condition, the type of bacteria and your medical history. It may require hospitalization and the use of combination drugs.
Usually, active TB is treated using antibiotics such as Rifampicin, Ethambutol and Isoniazid, which are used for a period of six months to two years to tackle Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. Sometimes Pyrazinamide is also prescribed.
A diagnosis for latent TB may use combinations of antibiotics to keep the dormant bacteria from getting drug resistant during long term usage. Isoniazid is the preferred antibiotic prescribed by doctors for latent TB.
Tackling drug-resistant TB is a tricky and a global health issue as the bacteria in such cases is resistant to both Rifampicin and Isoniazid. So a couple of first line drugs and a few second line drugs are used in combination to treat TB. It is a wait and watch game and an expensive one.
Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is also resistant to three or more of the six classes of second-line drugs.
Also, the treatment depends upon the country you live in, the preferred treatment options there by the medical fraternity, TB variants present there and the cost factor, government and insurance variables. Recently the Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) is also being very successfully used in India.
For pregnant woman, TB treatment is done using Isoniazid, Rifampin and Ethambutol only.
For infants treatment is carried out with the prescription of Streptomycin, Isoniazid, and Rifampin only.
NOTE: Drug side effects are substantial. You must talk to your doctor before taking them.
2. What complications could develop in the course of the disease?
A rare but serious complication is Miliary Tuberculosis when the disease spreads to damage the entire body. Other complications include damage to the brain and the central nervous system in the form of meningitis. Complications can arise in the form of joint and bone deterioration and pulmonary abscesses.