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In past times, little was known of tuberculosis, so there were many
strange and painful ways of treatment. For instance, the doctors would
expose the lungs to ultra violet light to kill the bacteria and stop
the spread. Also, they would surgically implant balloons in the lungs
and then fill the balloons with air and expand them. Another treatment
they tried was hydro-therapy where they would be held underwater. Pneumothorax
was when they would deflate the infected area of the lungs, killing the
bacteria. Yet another way they got rid of TB was thoracoplasty, where
the doctor surgically removes some of the muscles and ribs. Unfortunately,
fewer than 5 percent of the people survived the treatment. When antibiotics
were discovered, it was thought that they would work but penicillin did
not work for TB. Eventually antibiotics were developed that did help,
leading to modern day treatments.
Today there are less drastic treatments for TB. The doctors will use a combination of four antibiotics; isoniazid, rifampin, pyrazinamade, and ethambutol. If these aren't working, the doctor may use streptomycin, or ethionamide. They must use it as directed, which is normal six months. The medication is given to anyone that has TB. The patient may also have therapy. There, they will suggest a well balanced diet, and to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing. Very rarely, the doctor will suggest surgery.
The patient will start to feel healthy again after two or three months of treatment, but still needs to take the medication for a full six months or even longer. Sometimes they will skip doses or stop taking it early. When this happens, not all the bacteria in the body is gone and the disease may recur. This is thought to be the major reason leading to the rising numbers of drug resistant TB.