If you are infectious while you are taking 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 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.