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How is tuberculosis (TB) treated?

Tuberculosis (TB) can be cured with anti-TB medication. As treatment for TB takes much longer than other types of bacterial infections, a patient is often required to take a combination of drugs for six to nine months.

​Even if the symptoms of tuberculosis begin to disappear after you’ve begun taking the drugs, it is imperative to continue taking them for the entire course to ensure that all TB germs are killed, shares Clinical Associate Professor Low Su Ying, Senior Consultant from the Department of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Incomplete TB treatment will allow the surviving TB germs to continue to grow and multiply. But this time, they may develop resistance to the first-line drugs. In such situations, second-line TB drugs must be taken for a longer period but the chance of cure is considerably reduced,” explains Clin Assoc Prof Low.

How to prevent tips tuberculosis (TB)

Here are the measures you can adopt to help protect yourself and your loved ones from tuberculosis:

  1. Practice good hand hygiene - Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and avoid touching your face.
    Wash your hands the right way, watch this video to learn how!


  2. Always cough and sneeze into a tissue, and throw the used tissues into a rubbish bin. If you do not have a tissue, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

  3. Go for a check-up if you suspect that you co​uld be suffering from TB.

  4. Wear a mask when going to crowded places.

  5. Keep your immune system functioning properly by adopting healthy eating habits, exercising regularly and getting sufficient sleep.

  6. If someone you know has contracted TB, encourage him or her to adhere faithfully to the treatment.

What to do if you are diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB)

If you have been diagnosed with active TB, be sure to:

Complete the full course of your TB medications.

Stay at home especially during the first two weeks of treatment.

Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and wear a face mask when around people dur​ing the first few weeks of treatment.

See page 1 for types of tuberculosis (TB), symptoms and risks​.

​Ref: S13

Check out other articles on respiratory health:

Flu vs COVID-19: How to Tell the Difference

What Causes a Persistent Cough?

Pneumonia: What You Need to Know

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease): Symptoms, Risks, Treatment