How to diagnose and treat tuberculosis?
Your doctor will provide you physical exam to check your lymph nodes for swelling and use a stethoscope to listen carefully to the sounds your lungs make while you breathe.
A simple skin test is commonly used to diagnose tuberculosis. Blood tests are becoming more common recently because the TB skin test sometimes suggests that people have TB when they really don’t or people don’t have TB when they really do. Other tests include:
- Imaging tests such as chest X-ray or CT scan.
- Sputum tests to test for TB bacteria.
The most common medications used to treat tuberculosis include:
- Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)
- Ethambutol (Myambutol)
With tuberculosis, you must take antibiotics for at least six to nine months. The exact drugs and length of treatment depend on your age, overall health, possible drug resistance, the form of TB (latent or active) and the infection’s location in the body. If you have drug-resistant TB, a combination of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones and injectable medications, such as amikacin, kanamycin or capreomycin, are generally used for 20 to 30 months.
Completing the entire treatment is essential because if you stop treatment too soon or skip doses, the bacteria in your body will still be alive and become resistant to those drugs, which leads to TB that is much more dangerous and difficult to treat. So it’s very important that you finish the full course of therapy and take the medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor.