If you are infectious while you are taking a rest at home, you can do the following things to protect others near you. Take your medicines as directed. This is very important! Always cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough, sneeze, or laugh. Put the tissue in a closed bag and throw it away safely. Isolate yourself from others and avoid close contact with anyone. Sleep in a bedroom away from other family members for the first few weeks.
Air out your room often to the outside of the building (if it is not too cold outside). TB spreads in small closed spaces where air doesn’t move. Put a fan in your window to blow out air that may be filled with TB bacteria. If you open other windows in the room, the fan also will pull in the fresh air. This will reduce the chances that TB bacteria will stay in the room and infect someone who breathes the air. After you take the medicines for about 2 or 3 weeks, you might no longer be able to spread TB bacteria to others. If your doctor or nurse agrees, you will be able to go back to your daily routine, including returning to work or school. But remember, you will only get well if you take your medicines exactly as directed by your doctor or nurse. Think about people who may have spent time with you, such as family members, close friends, and co-workers. The local health department may need to test them for TB infection. TB is especially dangerous for children and HIV-infected persons. If these people are infected with TB bacteria, they need medicines right away to keep them from developing active TB disease.
DOTS (directly-observed therapy, short-course) means that the patient taking the medicine should be observed by a nominated person, and the taking of the medicine should be recorded. This ensures that the patient takes the medication regularly, which is essential for the medicines to be effective – and to prevent the bacteria from becoming resistant and the drug from becoming ineffective. The best way to remember to take medicines is to get directly-observed therapy. If following the DOTS regimen, the patient will meet with a healthcare worker every day or several times a week. This can be at the TB clinic, your home or work, or any other convenient location. You will take your medicines at this place while the healthcare worker observes. DOTS helps in several ways. The healthcare worker can help the TB patient remember to take the medicines and complete the treatment. This means he/she will get well as soon as possible. The healthcare worker will make sure that the medicines are working as they should. This person will also watch for side effects and answer questions about TB. The TB patient must be checked at different times to make sure everything is going well. He/ she should see their doctor or nurse regularly while taking the medicines. This will continue until the patient is cured.