Discharge Instructions for Tuberculosis (TB)

You have been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB), a serious disease caused by a type of bacteria. It is spread from person to person through the air. TB may scar the lungs and other parts of the body, such as the kidneys, bones, or brain. Here’s what you can do to take care of yourself and to prevent the spread of TB.

Prevent the spread of TB

Having TB means that tuberculosis bacteria are multiplying in your body and can be spread to other people. After taking TB medicine for a period of time, you will no longer be able to spread the disease. Your healthcare provider can tell you at what point this is true for you. To help prevent spreading the disease until then:

  • Make sure that your family, friends, and the people you work with are tested.

  • Avoid close contact with others until your healthcare provider says it is OK.

  • Keep your hands clean. Be sure to wash them every time you use them to cover your mouth when you cough.

  • When you cough or sneeze, take steps to prevent the spread of TB:

    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.

    • Put your used tissue in a closed bag and throw it away.

    • If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.

    • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel.

Home care

  • Take your medicine exactly as directed. Continue taking it even if you start to feel better. You will take medicine for at least 6 months and maybe longer. Not taking your medicine for the full course may lead you to get sick again. It also increases the chance of drug-resistant TB. Drug-resistant TB means that one or more of the usual medicines for TB don’t work.

  • If you are taking birth control pills, use an additional backup method of birth control. Some TB medicines may interfere with the pill’s effectiveness.

  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter medicines.

  • Sleep in a room alone and with good air flow (ventilation).

  • Limit your activity to avoid feeling tired. Plan frequent rest periods.

  • Keep your healthcare appointments. You will need to be checked regularly for several months to a year to make sure you are free from TB bacteria.

Follow-up care

Don’t leave until you have had a follow up-appointment scheduled. This is the law in most states. You will likely have follow-up appointments for a few months. These appointments are very important with TB. Keep these appointments as scheduled. If you must miss an appointment, be sure to reschedule it promptly.


Call 911

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain or shortness of breath

  • Blue lips or fingernails

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Bloody material (sputum) that is coughed up from your lungs and into your mouth

  • Worsening or recurring night sweats

  • Increased coughing

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