Side Effects & warning signs of treatment

TB Testing and medication is free!

Like all medications, your anti-tuberculosis tablets can cause side effects. Your doctor will monitor your progress during treatment to make sure the medication is working. This will usually involve blood, sputum or urine tests and chest x-rays.

Tell your doctor immediately if you experience illness or symptoms

It is important to tell your doctor or health care worker immediately if you experience any unexplained illness or the following symptoms:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Jaundice – yellowish skin or eyes,  dark urine (orange/red urine isnormal side effect and is not harmful)
  • Unexplained fever or tiredness
  • Tingling or numbness of hands or feet, or joint pains
  • Skin rash, itching skin or bruising
  • Visual changes or change in red-green colour vision.
(My side effects, confusion, difficulty remembering, skin rash and spots on face and chest, nausea-which can be curbed if you take your medication before you sleep, because you sleep though the side effects, exhaustion, joint pain just to name a few)

Side effects of specific tuberculosis medications

The different medications used to treat tuberculosis are associated with specific side effects:

  • Isoniazid – may make you feel tired or nauseous or make you lose your appetite. It can cause numbness or tingling in your hands or feet but this is rare in well-nourished people.
  • Rifampicin – reduces the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill so talk to your doctor about other forms of contraception. It can stain lens implants and contact lenses so tell your doctor if you use these.
  • Ethambutol or Myambutol – can cause visual problems. Your eyesight will be checked during treatment but you should stop taking the medication if your vision is affected and call your doctor straight away.
  • Pyrazinamide – can lead to nausea and a loss of appetite. It is usually only taken for the first two to three months of treatment. Consult with your doctor if you develop unexplained rashes, fever, aches or joint pains.

Some things to note when taking TB medications

When taking tuberculosis medications, it is important to be aware of a few basic cautions:

  • Report any side effects to your doctor immediately.
  • Tell your TB doctor about any other medications you are taking.
  • Medication must be taken for long enough to kill all of the tuberculosis bacteria – a minimum of six months.
  • Take your medications regularly and do not stop taking them, even when you feel better. Irregular use can lead to the tuberculosis bacteria becoming resistant to the medications.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or taking acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol) because it increases the drugs side effects and toxicity because both can affect the liver.

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July 2018
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