How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed
Blood tests are used to diagnose hepatitis B. Blood tests can tell your doctor whether your liver is working properly, and they can also be used to monitor your condition during treatment.
Your doctor may want to look at your liver with an ultrasound exam or X-rays. You may also need a liver biopsy. During a liver biopsy, a small piece of the liver is removed and looked at under a microscope. A liver biopsy can help your doctor diagnose your illness and see the condition of your liver directly.
Living With Hepatitis B
Risk of chronic infection caused by hepatitis B is related to your age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection . Approximately 90% of infected infants become chronically infected compared with 2%-6% of adult, reports the CDC.
Chronic hepatitis B infection can lead to serious health issues. If you have it, you should be monitored regularly by a doctor. This means you should check in with your doctor at least once or twice a year. Some people who have chronic hepatitis B infection require medicine, but others do not. Your doctor can discuss treatment options with you.
If you have chronic hepatitis B infection, it will likely stay in your blood and liver for a lifetime, according to The Hepatitis B Foundation. This means that you could pass the virus to others, even if you dont feel sick.
The most important thing to remember is that hepatitis B is a chronic medical condition that can be successfully managed if you take good care of your health and your liver, reports the Hepatitis B Foundation. You should expect to live a long, full life.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- How did I get hepatitis B?
- What treatment is best for me?
- Can I be cured of hepatitis B?
- Are there any medicines I should take?
- What can I do to protect my friends and family from hepatitis B?
- How long will my treatment last?
- Is it possible for hepatitis B to come back?
- Should I get the hepatitis B vaccine?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medicines?
- Will my liver ever be normal again?
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Surveillance To Detect Liver Cancer Early
The most common causes of primary liver cancer are chronic infection with the hepatitis B and C viruses, excessive alcohol consumption, and fatty liver disease. NewYork-Presbyterian has a strong surveillance program for people at risk of liver cancer, particularly those with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C, with the hope of detecting the disease in its early, more curable stages.
Mylab Box At Home Hepatitis B Test
This hepatitis B test kit is registered by the Food and Drug Administration . It involves a finger prick collection and comes with free 2-day shipping. myLAB Box claims that a person can perform this test in 5 minutes.
Once people collect their sample and mail it to myLAB Box lab, they should receive their results within 25 days.
Free consultations are available for those who receive a positive result.
Pros and cons
Some advantages of this test include fast lab results and free consultations if the result is positive.
However, the company does not accept health insurance. Also, there is potential for user error or inaccurate results.
The company works with CLIA-certified labs, and people should receive their test results within 12 days.
Pros and cons
- helpful suggestions for complimentary tests
- consultations to discuss results
- over 4,500 testing centers in the United States
There are, however, limited lab locations in rural areas, and the company charges a 20% fee for order cancellations.
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How Do Doctors Test For Hepatitis C
Doctors check for hepatitis C through a blood test called an HCV antibody test.
When a person contracts HCV, their immune system releases HCV antibodies into the bloodstream. The HCV antibody test looks for the presence of these proteins.
A negative, or nonreactive, result shows that the person does not currently have an HCV infection. A positive, or reactive, result indicates that the person contracted HCV at some point.
It is important to note that a positive antibody test does not necessarily mean that the individual currently has hepatitis C. Once someone has had hepatitis C, they will always have hepatitis C antibodies.
For this reason, if a blood test returns a positive HCV result, the doctor will order another blood test to check for an active infection. This test, called the nucleic acid test , detects HCV genetic material called RNA, which will be present if the person has an active HCV infection.
A negative NAT result means that the person previously had an HCV infection but that the virus is no longer in their body. If the result is positive, the person currently has the virus in their body, and it can transmit to other people.
A person will need to receive treatment for an acute HCV infection. However, this may not be possible if they are pregnant. Experts recommend against taking HCV drugs during pregnancy, as they may damage the developing baby.
Anyone with chronic hepatitis C should visit a doctor regularly to monitor their liver health.
How Do Doctors Treat The Complications Of Hepatitis B
If chronic hepatitis B leads to cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Doctors can treat the health problems related to cirrhosis with medicines, minor medical procedures, and surgery. If you have cirrhosis, you have an increased chance of liver cancer. Your doctor may order blood tests and an ultrasound or another type of imaging test to check for liver cancer.
If chronic hepatitis B leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
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Medical Treatment For Hepatitis A B & C
Treatment for hepatitis A, B, or C is based on which type of hepatitis is present in the bloodstream and the severity of the resulting liver damage. Depending on the results of diagnostic tests, our specialists at NYU Langone may recommend antiviral medication to stop the virus from replicating and protect your liver from further damage.
Can Hepatitis B Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to always have protected sex and, if you use intravenous drugs, avoid sharing needles.
A vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis B. It is now routinely given in the first year of life to all newborn infants. It is safe and requires 3 shots over a 6-month period. This vaccine should be given to people who are at high risk for this illness, such as healthcare workers, all children, people who travel to areas where the infection is widespread, drug users, and those who have multiple sex partners.
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Screening Tests For Hepatitis B
Your blood may be screened for HBV for many different reasons. The three tests generally include HBsAg, antibody to HBsAg, and antibody to hepatitis B core antigen. This allows the healthcare provider to know whether you could benefit from vaccination, or if you have active or chronic hepatitis B and need counseling, care, or treatment.
You may be routinely screened if you are pregnant, are donating blood or tissue, need immunosuppressive therapy, or have end-stage renal disease. You will also be screened if you are in groups that are at higher risk for HBV.
Doctors And Specialists Who Can Treat Hepatitis
Robert Burakoff, MD, MPH, is board-certified in gastroentrology. He is the vice chair for ambulatory services for the department of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, where he is also a professor. He was the founding editor and co-editor in chief of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
If you have hepatitis, you may be wondering who can treat your hepatitis. Well, a hepatitis specialist can help. But do you know the difference between the different kinds of clinicians who can treat your hepatitis? To help you understand who does what, here’s a short description of the different professionals who might work in your healthcare setting.
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What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Taking Epclusa
Tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you have ever had hepatitis B infection, liver problems other than hepatitis C infection, or a liver transplant if you have kidney problems or are on dialysis if you have HIV or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant or breastfeed. It is not known if EPCLUSA will harm your unborn baby or pass into your breast milk.
Tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you have ever had hepatitis B infection, liver problems other than hepatitis C infection, or a liver transplant if you have kidney problems or are on dialysis if you have HIV or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant or breastfeed. It is not known if EPCLUSA will harm your unborn baby or pass into your breast milk. If you take EPCLUSA with ribavirin, you should also read the ribavirin Medication Guide for important pregnancy-related information.
Tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. EPCLUSA and certain other medicines may affect each other, or may cause side effects.
Lifestyle Risk Or Medical Conditions
Patients whose lifestyle or medical conditions put them at risk of hepatitis B, including family members of those with hepatitis B, also need immunisation.
If there is a lifestyle risk, you cannot charge.
Certain lifestyles will put some people at more risk, and practices can only rely on patients to give the correct information. Examples may include tattoo parlour workers, family members of intravenous drug users and sex workers.
Determining whether these are lifestyle risks or occupational risks is relevant to a strict interpretation of GMS obligations. However, practices are reminded of the primacy of care for the patient and good medical practice.
Giving hepatitis B immunisations to those at lifestyle or medical risk is not part of the additional service component of the global sum.
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Diagnosing Hepatitis A B & C
At NYU Langone, hepatologists, or liver specialists, and infectious disease specialists use blood tests to diagnose hepatitis A, B, and C. These viral infections cause inflammation of the liver.
If the results of a blood test confirm a diagnosis of viral hepatitis, your doctor may recommend imaging tests or a liver biopsy to determine the extent of liver disease.
What Causes Hepatitis B
The hepatitis B virus causes hepatitis B. The hepatitis B virus spreads through contact with an infected persons blood, semen, or other body fluids. Contact can occur by
- being born to a mother with hepatitis B
- having unprotected sex with an infected person
- sharing drug needles or other drug materials with an infected person
- getting an accidental stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
- being tattooed or pierced with tools that were used on an infected person and werent properly sterilized, or cleaned in a way that destroys all viruses and other microbes
- having contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
- using an infected persons razor, toothbrush, or nail clippers
You cant get hepatitis B from
- being coughed on or sneezed on by an infected person
- drinking unclean water or untreated water that has not been boiled
- eating food that is unclean or has not been properly cooked
- hugging an infected person
- shaking hands or holding hands with an infected person
- sharing spoons, forks, and other eating utensils
- sitting next to an infected person
Mothers who have hepatitis B can safely breastfeed their babies. If a baby receives hepatitis B immune globulin and starts receiving the hepatitis B vaccine to prevent hepatitis B infection shortly after birth, hepatitis B is unlikely to spread from mother to child through breastfeeding.15
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Prevent Hepatitis B Infections In Newborns
If you are pregnant and have hepatitis B, talk with your doctor about lowering the risk that the infection will spread to your baby. Your doctor will check your virus levels during pregnancy. If virus levels are high, your doctor may recommend treatment during pregnancy to lower virus levels and reduce the chance that hepatitis B will spread to your baby. Your doctor may refer you to a liver specialist to find out if you need hepatitis B treatment and to check for liver damage.
When it is time to give birth, tell the doctor and staff who deliver your baby that you have hepatitis B. A health care professional should give your baby the hepatitis B vaccine and HBIG right after birth. The vaccine and HBIG will greatly reduce the chance of your baby getting the infection.
Antiviral Medication For Hepatitis B
Doctors may recommend antiviral medication for people with chronic hepatitis B, which occurs when the virus stays in your body for more than six months.
Antiviral medication prevents the virus from replicating, or creating copies of itself, and may prevent progressive liver damage. Currently available medications can treat hepatitis B with a low risk of serious side effects.
NYU Langone hepatologists and infectious disease specialists prescribe medication when they have determined that without treatment, the hepatitis B virus is very likely to damage the liver over time. People with chronic hepatitis B may need to take antiviral medication for the rest of their lives to prevent liver damage.
There are many different types of antiviral medications available, and your doctor recommends the right type for you based on your symptoms, your overall health, and the results of diagnostic tests. A doctor may take a wait-and-see approach with a person who has a healthy liver and whose blood tests indicate a low viral load, the number of copies of the hepatitis B virus in your bloodstream.
Someone with HIV infection or AIDS may have a weakened immune system and is therefore more likely to develop liver damage. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends that people with HIV infection who are diagnosed with hepatitis B immediately begin treatment with antiviral medication.
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Hepatitis B: What You Need To Know
- Chronic hepatitis B virus is the ninth leading cause of death.
- Patients with hepatitis B need to be monitored regularly, because there is a higher risk for other health complications.
- There is no cure for chronic hepatitis B patients take medications to suppress the virus and prevent complications.
- There are a number of ways to prevent hepatitis B, including following the standard immunization schedule.
Worldwide, there are approximately 300 million carriers of hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is transmitted by direct exposure to infected blood or bodily fluids. Infants may also develop the disease if their mother has the virus. Patients with chronic hepatitis B infection are at high risk for serious health complications, including hepatocellular carcinoma or cirrhosis .
Is There A Hepatitis C Vaccine
No vaccine exists for hepatitis C right now. While efforts to develop a vaccine for this specific strain are ongoing, it’s proven challenging. That’s because hepatitis C tends to avoid immune responses. In other words, a person can catch hepatitis C repeatedly despite past infection, which is what makes it hard to create a vaccine that works for this virus.
There is an effective treatment for hepatitis C, though, and it involves direct-acting antivirals . Thanks to this treatment, WHO aims to cut 80% of hepatitis C cases worldwide by 2030. Researchers across the globe think that a vaccine is needed to accomplish this goal, so creating one is a high priority.
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What If I Have Hepatitis B And Get Pregnant
Many women don’t find out they have chronic hepatitis B until they are tested during pregnancy. If you are infected during pregnancy, your doctor may recommend you start a medicine to treat it and decrease the risk of spreading the infection to your baby. After delivery, your baby should be given a medicine called hepatitis B immune globulin and the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. These lower the chance of your baby getting infected. More doses of the vaccine will be given when your child is older. You can’t pass the hepatitis B virus to your baby in breast milk, so breastfeeding is safe.
How To Find A Liver Specialist Who Really Knows Hepatitis B
If you have chronic hepatitis B or are newly-diagnosed, its important to see a liver specialist who has experience with hepatitis B.
Having a specialist with hepatitis B expertise on your team not only safeguards your health, it also lessens the stress of having a chronic liver disease. My specialist gave me all the possible scenarios, but most importantly, he gave me my life back, one hepatitis B patient recalled.
When first diagnosed, its often a primary health provider or for children a pediatrician who gets the test results and calls to break the news. Doctors may run additional blood tests and/or immediately refer you to a liver specialist. They may recommend a specialist who accepts your insurance or practices in the same healthcare system, but you may have to do some research to find the best specialist to treat your hepatitis B.
There are two types of specialists who treat liver diseases:
- A gastroenterologist is an internist who has trained in digestive disorders including the liver, but how much liver expertise a gastroenterologist has varies based on their training. Its important to find out if they specialize in liver diseases.
- A hepatologist is a physician who specializes in the liver. This doctor has the most expertise and should be up-to-date about new treatments and clinical trials. But not all hepatologists have treated hepatitis B. Many will have treated hepatitis C, but not hepatitis B, so you need to ask.
Tips for finding a specialist:
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