What drugs are used to treat tuberculosis in children?

Because the TB bacillus rapidly becomes resistant to 1 antituberculous drug if it is given on its own, multiple drug therapy is used. Usually 3 or more drugs are given together. The drug combination usually given consists of:

  • Rifampicin
  • Isoniazid (INH)
  • Pyrazinamide (PZA)

All 3 drugs are usually given together before breakfast. It is very important that the drugs are taken regularly and correctly. Hospitalisation and bed rest are usually not needed. With correct treatment more than 90% of children with tuberculosis can be cured.

Children with miliary TB or TB meningitis must be hospitalised. A fourth antituberculous drug is added (preferably ethionamide, otherwise ethambutol or streptomycin). These drugs are given at higher doses in TB meningitis and miliary TB.

Usually added pyridoxine is not needed.

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