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Treatment and Medication

TB INFECTION CAN BE TREATED VERY EFFECTIVELY with medications that eliminate the TB bacteria in the body and reduce the likelihood that a person will develop active TB disease later in their life. TB treatment usually takes 6 months or longer, depending on how sick a person may be.

Treatment for TB infection

If a person has latent TB infection, there are TB bacteria in the body, but the person will not have any symptoms. TB infection can be treated to prevent a person from becoming sick with active TB disease in the future. TB medications and treatments are free in Ontario.

TB infection is often treated with a medication called isoniazid (INH). Most people are prescribed this medication daily for 9 months. It’s very important for a person to take their TB medication as directed by their health care provider.

If a person stops taking their TB medications or misses’ doses, the following events could happen:

  • The TB infection could develop into active TB disease. With active TB in the lungs, a person will have symptoms and may spread the TB bacteria to others.
  • The TB bacteria may become even stronger, making the bacteria harder to treat. This is called drug-resistant TB and it is very dangerous

Treatment for active TB disease

If a person has active TB disease, their health care provider will prescribe medication to cure them. TB medications and treatments are free in Ontario.

TB medications can cure TB. They eliminate the TB bacteria in the body. Active TB disease is usually treated with a combination of antibiotics. These are the most common medications to cure TB are:

  • Isoniazid (INH)
  • Rifampin (RMP)
  • Pyrazinamide (PZA)
  • Ethambutol (EMB)

A health-care provider will decide which medications are best for a person with active TB disease, and how long the person must take them to be cured. TB bacteria are hard to kill, so it is very important for a person to take their medications as directed by their health care provider.

If a person stops taking their TB medications early, the following events could happen:

  • The TB bacteria may become stronger making the bacteria harder to treat. This is called drug-resistant TB. If a person has drug resistant TB, they will need to take more medications that may cause severe side effects.
  • The TB bacteria could spread to other parts of the body.
  • TB disease could come back.

A health-care provider will also determine when a person is no longer infections and able to return to school/work. This usually depends on if a person is feeling better and how they respond to TB treatment.