What is the most important information I should know about ethambutol?

Take all of the ethambutol that has been prescribed for you even if you begin to feel better. Your symptoms may begin to improve before the infection is completely treated.
Call your doctor immediately if you experience changes in vision (e.g., blurring, red-green color blindness) or a rash.

What is ethambutol?

Ethambutol is an antibiotic. It prevents growth of the tuberculous bacteria in the body.
Ethambutol is used to treat tuberculosis (TB).
Ethambutol may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking ethambutol?

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have
ever had an allergic reaction to ethambutol;
cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, or optic neuritis; or kidney disease.
You may not be able to take ethambutol, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you have any of the conditions listed above.
It is not known whether ethambutol will be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment.
It is also not known whether ethambutol will be harmful to a nursing baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take ethambutol?

Take ethambutol exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these instructions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.
Take each dose with a full glass (8 ounces) of water.
Ethambutol can be taken with or without food. Taking ethambutol with food may decrease stomach upset.
Take all of the ethambutol that has been prescribed for you even if you begin to feel better. Your symptoms may begin to improve before the infection is completely treated.
Ethambutol is usually combined with one or more other tuberculosis medicines.
Store this medication at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next regularly scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and take the next one as directed. Do not take a double dose of this medication.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if an overdose is suspected.
Symptoms of an ethambutol overdose are unknown.

What should I avoid while taking ethambutol?

There are no restrictions on foods, beverages, or activities during treatment with ethambutol unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

What other drugs will affect ethambutol?

Do not take antacids that contain aluminum within several hours of taking a dose of ethambutol. Aluminum will decrease the amount of ethambutol that is absorbed by the body. If you need an antacid, ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend one that is aluminum free.
Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with ethambutol. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products.

What are the possible side effects of ethambutol?

If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking ethambutol and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately:
an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); vision changes (e.g., blurring, red-green color blindness); a rash; numbness or tingling in your fingers, toes, hands, or feet; confusion, disorientation, or hallucinations; or fever.

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take ethambutol and talk to your doctor if you experience stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or decreased appetite; headache; mild dizziness; worsening gout; or joint pain.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.