What is ethambutol hydrochloride?
Ethambutol hydrochloride is an antibacterial prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of active tuberculosis (TB) of the lungs. (Active TB is also called TB disease.)
TB can be an opportunistic infection (OI) of HIV. An OI is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as people with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems. To learn more about OIs, read the HIVinfo What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.
To learn how HIV and TB are connected, read the HIVinfo HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) fact sheet. The fact sheet includes information on TB treatment in people with HIV/TB coinfection.
How is ethambutol hydrochloride used in people with HIV?
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV and the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Children with and Exposed to HIV include recommendations on the uses of ethambutol hydrochloride in people with HIV to:
- Active TB disease
- Disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection
- Disseminated MAC infection from recurring
The recommended uses may not always be consistent with FDA-approved uses of ethambutol hydrochloride. See the Adult and Pediatric Opportunistic Infection Guidelines for complete information on recommended uses of ethambutol hydrochloride in adults and children with HIV. Ethambutol hydrochloride may have other recommended uses not listed above.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking ethambutol hydrochloride?
Before taking ethambutol hydrochloride, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to ethambutol hydrochloride or any other medicines.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had, including eye disorders, liver or kidney problems, or gout.
- About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing or remembering to take pills.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of taking ethambutol hydrochloride during pregnancy. The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV may include other recommendations on the use of ethambutol hydrochloride during pregnancy. Please refer to these guidelines for additional information.
- If you are breast/chestfeeding or plan to breast/chestfeed. For people with HIV in the United States, the Guideline recommends speaking with your health care provider to discuss options for feeding your baby. People with suppressed viral load have a less than 1% chance of transmitting HIV to their baby via their own milk.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Ethambutol hydrochloride may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how ethambutol hydrochloride works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between ethambutol hydrochloride and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from ethambutol hydrochloride. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I take ethambutol hydrochloride?
Take ethambutol hydrochloride according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much ethambutol hydrochloride to take and when to take it. Before you start ethambutol hydrochloride and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should ethambutol hydrochloride be stored?
- Store ethambutol hydrochloride tablets at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C).
- Keep ethambutol hydrochloride in the container that it came in and keep the container tightly closed.
- Do not use ethambutol hydrochloride if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away ethambutol hydrochloride that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep ethambutol hydrochloride and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about ethambutol hydrochloride?
- Recommendations on the HIV-related uses of ethambutol hydrochloride, from the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV and the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Children with and Exposed to HIV.
- This Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Tablet (film coated).
- The American Hospital Formulary Service (AHFS) Patient Medication Information for ethambutol available from MedlinePlus.
- Ethambutol hydrochloride-related research studies, from ClinicalTrials.gov. (The ClinicalTrials.gov search can be modified so that you can get results that better match your interests. To learn more about the ClinicalTrials.gov search features, please see How to Search.)
Last Reviewed: June 17, 2021