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    Information about Ethambutol

    Ethambutol uses

    Ethambutol is used in the treatment of tuberculosis.

    How ethambutol works

    Ethambutol is an antibiotic. It works by slowing the growth of bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

    Common side effects of ethambutol

    Visual impairment, Color blindness
    Content Details
    Written By
    Dr. Sakshi Sharma
    Reviewed By
    Dr. Lalit Kanodia
    MD (Pharmacology), MBBS
    Last updated on:
    27 Dec 2019 | 01:08 PM (IST)
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    Read Our Editorial Policy

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    Expert advice for Ethambutol

    • Ethambutol is effective at treating tuberculosis when taken together with other antibacterial drugs.
    • It has to be taken for several months in order for it work properly (usually 6 months).
    • Take it with food to avoid stomach upset.
    • It can lower your blood sugar. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar regularly.
    • Your doctor may monitor your liver function, vision and thyroid function while on treatment with this medicine.
    • Avoid consuming alcohol while taking this medication.
    • Do not stop taking Ethambutol even if you start to feel better. Stopping early can result in treatment failure and in the development of drug-resistant tuberculosis. This can be life-threatening and lead to other serious health risks.

    Frequently asked questions for Ethambutol


    Q. My child vomited after taking Ethambutol. What should be done?

    If your child vomited within 30 minutes of taking Ethambutol, give the same dose again. If vomiting occurred 30 minutes after taking Ethambutol, you need not repeat the dose. If your child vomits again after taking Ethambutol, consult your doctor.

    Q. For how long does Ethambutol stay in your system?

    Ethambutol stays for about 24 hours in your system. This duration varies from person to person and maybe different for patients with kidney problems.

    Q. Will Ethambutol work if I have developed tuberculosis for the second time?

    Yes, it will work if you had taken proper treatment and got cured when you developed tuberculosis for the first time. If you have any doubt, ask your doctor.

    Q. Is it necessary to take so many TB drugs simultaneously? Is there no single medicine which can provide a cure for tuberculosis?

    Yes, it is important that you take all the prescribed TB drugs together for the recommended duration, else you will not be cured. A single drug is not prescribed to treat TB because it may increase the risk of developing multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, which is very difficult to treat.

    Q. What is drug resistance? Can I become resistant to Ethambutol?

    Sometimes it happens that bacteria gets modified in your body and stops reacting to the medicine. As a result, the medicine stops working. This is called drug resistance. Drug resistance is uncommon if Ethambutol is used in combination with other TB drugs.

    Q. Can Ethambutol treatment be taken for more than two months?

    Yes, Ethambutol can be continued for more than 2 months, depending on your condition and as per your doctor’s advice. If after 2 months, your investigations show that the TB bacteria are still active, you may have to take Ethambutol for 1 more month. In case you are resistant to other TB drugs, you may have to take Ethambutol and other TB drugs (for which you are not drug resistant) for longer than 2 months.

    Q. What are the warning signals which should prompt me to stop taking Ethambutol?

    You should consult your doctor and consider stopping the medicine immediately if you develop any vision problems like blurred vision, color blindness or any kidney problems like decreased amount of urine and swelling of your legs and feet. You may even develop liver troubles like nausea, vomiting and yellowish color of skin and eyes. Beware of all these symptoms and consult your doctor immediately.

    Content on this page was last updated on 27 December, 2019, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)