Treatment for TB


You have no reason to worry. TB can be treated and cured with medication, except in some rare cases. It is, however, necessary that you take medicines carefully as instructed by your doctor or nurse.

TB is an illness, which is cured with medication. More than one medicine is needed to kill all the TB bacteria. Therefore, you will get several different medicines at the same time. The most common medicines used in the treatment of TB are

  • rifampicin
  • isoniazid
  • pyrazinamide
  • ethambutol and
  • streptomycin

tuberkuloosi, lääkkeet, TB-lääkkeet

It takes a long time to kill all the TB bacteria. That’s why the medication continues for at least six months, often longer. Usually four different drugs are used during the first two months, after that, treatment continues with two drugs.

You will usually feel better after you have taken medication for a couple of weeks. However, some TB bacteria in your body are still alive. Even if you would not have symptoms anymore, it is important that you continue taking your drugs until all bacteria have been eliminated.

The treatment is started at hospital and is continued after that at home. Your doctor is responsible for the planning of your treatment, choosing the drugs, dosages and length of the treatment. You can ask your doctor about specific details concerning the treatment.

Directly observed treatment

TB medication is given directly observed (DOT).
You have the right to get support and advice during the whole treatment period. TB treatment lasts several months and the amount of medicines is large, therefore it is not easy to take medicines regularly every day. The aim of treatment observation is to help you to take medicines regularly, to check for possible adverse effects of medication and to help you get cured as soon as possible.

You will take your medication in such a way that a nurse or other qualified worker observes that you swallow every dosage. At the same time they check for possible adverse effects of medication, follow your improvement and answer your questions. If the patient is a child, parents can give the medication to the child under the supervision of a health care worker.

The doctor in charge of the treatment decides when observation of treatment is started and when it can be finished. In the hospital, a nurse observes when you take your medicines. Before you can continue your treatment at home, it is agreed how you will get your medicines for home treatment. Medication can be taken in the outpatient department of the hospital, in a health station, in occupational health station, at school or asylum seekers’ reception center. If your condition requires it, a nurse can supervise treatment in your home or in some other place where you live. The way observed treatment is organized varies by municipality.

Interruption of medication by yourself or not taking some of the medicines every now and then can be dangerous. TB bacteria can multiply and your treatment continues longer. TB bacteria can also become resistant to those medicines you are treated with. You may have to take new medicines, if the previous medicines are no more effective. It is necessary to take new medicines much longer and usually they cause more adverse effects.

  • Only medicines for TB which are taken regularly eliminate TB bacteria.
  • TB will be cured if you take medication as you have been instructed.
  • Do not change or interrupt treatment.
  • Continue taking medicines even if you feel better.
  • Medication removes the risk of transmission.

Medical follow-up visits

Your recovery is followed carefully at hospital outpatient department at 1-2 months intervals during the treatment. During the check-ups a chest x-ray, blood tests and samples of the slime/sputum you are coughing up are taken. You also have then the possibility to ask the doctor questions.