TB Therapy Risky for Elderly

Study finds many adverse side effects of treating latent tuberculosis in patients over 65 years of age

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Tuberculosis (TB) affects one third of the world's population. In some, the disease is latent, meaning it is inactive and non-contagious.

Still, those infected with latent TB can develop active TB because of a compromised immune system due to old age or other health complications.

Patients with latent TB can undergo latent tuberculosis therapy in order to reduce the risk of developing active TB. Latent tuberculosis therapy, however, can produce hospitalizing side effects in patients over 65 years of age, according to a new study by Dr. Dick Menzies of Montreal Chest Institute and his coauthors.

The central purpose of this study, says Menzies, was to determine rates of adverse side effects of latent tuberculosis therapy in different age demographics. The study's findings showed adverse reactions that required hospitalization including noninfectious/toxic hepatitis, indigestion, vomiting, thrombocytopenia (lack of sufficient platelets in the blood), allergic inflammation of the skin, and poisoning.

According to the study's authors, the risk of these side effects is significantly greater for those over 65 years of age. They recommend that health care professionals carefully consider the risks and benefits of latent tuberculosis therapy before administering it to their elderly patients.

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Review Date: 
January 10, 2011
Last Updated:
January 11, 2011