What To Think About
- Interferons have common side effects, including fever, headaches, and hair loss. They may also cause mental problems or make them worse.
- If you have cirrhosis, you cannot use interferons. But you can use adefovir, entecavir, lamivudine, telbivudine, and tenofovir.
- After any kind of treatment for hepatitis B, the virus may become active again .
Who Should Be Vaccinated For Hepatitis B
All newborns should be vaccinated. Also, people who are under 18 who were not vaccinated at birth should also get the vaccine. Other groups who should be sure to be vaccinated are those in certain high-risk categories, such as:
- People who have more than one sexual partner.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Adults with diabetes.
- Sexual partners of infected people and people who share households with infected individuals.
- People who are exposed to blood and other bodily fluids, including healthcare and public safety professionals, and people who work in jails and other places taking care of people who cant take care of themselves.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hepatitis B
You may have no signs or symptoms and may not know you have been infected. Symptoms of an HBV infection can take 1 to 6 months to develop. You may have any of the following:
- Dark urine or pale bowel movements
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
- Jaundice , itchy skin, or skin rash
- Joint pain and body aches
- Pain in the right upper side of your abdomen
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Treatment Options For Hepatitis B
Acute hepatitis B usually doesnt require treatment. Most people will overcome an acute infection on their own. However, rest and hydration will help you recover.
Antiviral medications are used to treat chronic hepatitis B. These help you fight the virus. They may also reduce the risk of future liver complications.
You may need a liver transplant if hepatitis B has severely damaged your liver. A liver transplant means a surgeon will remove your liver and replace it with a donor liver. Most donor livers come from deceased donors.
Hepatitis B And Pregnancy
If youâre pregnant, you might pass the virus to your baby at birth. Itâs less likely to happen during your pregnancy.
If your baby gets the virus and isnât treated, they could have long-term liver problems. All newborns with infected mothers should get hepatitis B immune globulin and the vaccine for hepatitis at birth and during their first year of life.
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Eating Diet And Nutrition For Hepatitis B
If you have hepatitis B, you should eat a balanced, healthy diet. Obesity can increase the chance of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease , and NAFLD can increase liver damage in people who have hepatitis B. Talk with your doctor about healthy eating and maintaining a healthy weight.
You should also avoid alcohol because it can cause more liver damage.
Whats The Prognosis For Hepatitis B
Your doctor will know youâve recovered when you no longer have symptoms and blood tests show:
- Your liver is working normally.
- You have hepatitis B surface antibody.
But some people don’t get rid of the infection. If you have it for more than 6 months, youâre whatâs called a carrier, even if you donât have symptoms. This means you can give the disease to someone else through:
- Unprotected sex
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Hepatitis B Symptoms & Treatment
- Hepatitis B is a virus found in infected blood, semen and vaginal fluids.
- Its a sexually transmitted infection that can be passed on through unprotected sex. You can also get it from contaminated needles and syringes. Its also commonly passed on from a mother to her baby during birth.
- There is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B, which is routinely offered to infants as well as at-risk groups.
- You can prevent hepatitis B by practising safer sex, never sharing needles and syringes, and avoiding unlicensed tattoo parlours and acupuncturists.
- Most people dont need treatment for acute hepatitis B. If the infection becomes chronic, there is no cure, but it can be managed with treatment.
Who Is More Likely To Get Hepatitis B
People are more likely to get hepatitis B if they are born to a mother who has hepatitis B. The virus can spread from mother to child during birth. For this reason, people are more likely to have hepatitis B if they
- were born in a part of the world where 2 percent or more of the population has hepatitis B infection
- were born in the United States, didnt receive the hepatitis B vaccine as an infant, and have parents who were born in an area where 8 percent or more of the population had hepatitis B infection
People are also more likely to have hepatitis B if they
- are infected with HIV, because hepatitis B and HIV spread in similar ways
- have lived with or had sex with someone who has hepatitis B
- have had more than one sex partner in the last 6 months or have a history of sexually transmitted disease
- are men who have sex with men
- are injection drug users
- work in a profession, such as health care, in which they have contact with blood, needles, or body fluids at work
- live or work in a care facility for people with developmental disabilities
- have been on kidney dialysis
- live or work in a prison
- had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before the mid-1980s
In the United States, hepatitis B spreads among adults mainly through contact with infected blood through the skin, such as during injection drug use, and through sexual contact.12
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What To Do About Hepatitis
If you have hepatitis A or B, in most cases youll get better with a doctors care and supportive treatment without specific anti-viral treatments.
Hepatitis C and other chronic forms will probably affect your life more profoundly, but you can do a lot to manage the condition and keep it under control.
If someone in your home has hepatitis, it is also important to take appropriate precautions to avoid spreading the disease.
For hepatitis A, handwashing is extremely important. For hepatitis B and C, care should be taken to avoid contact with the blood of the infected individual, even the microscopic amounts that hide in toothbrushes and on razors, so never share these items.
Treatment can suppress or even eradicate hepatitis C. Older treatments for hepatitis C are combination antiviral therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin.
The treatment came with difficult side effects, and was effective for only about 40 to 80 percent of patients, depending on the type of hepatitis C they carried.
Newer drugs approved by the FDA in 2013 and 2014 are more effective, curing the viral infection for 90 percent of patients or more. New antiviral medications to treat hepatitis C include simeprevir and sofosbuvir , and combination therapies include Harvoni and Viekira Pak.
Can Hepatitis B Be Cured
There are currently no cures for hepatitis B.
Liver cancer risks are lowered with treatment, but there is still a need for ongoing screening as the risks are not completely averted. The goals of treatment are initially to improve the liver tests and to stop the virus from replicating . In the long term, some patients have what is referred to as a functional cure, where the hep B surface antigen becomes negative.
For the small percentage of people who achieve this, usually after many years of treatment, their treatment can sometimes be stopped. Even after stopping treatment, they will still require ongoing monitoring. Regardless, where cirrhosis is present, lifelong treatment is still recommended.
For those who do not have cirrhosis, it remains critical that they discuss any interruption or cessation of medicines with their doctors.
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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.
What Increases Your Risk
People who have certain behaviours or certain jobs are at high risk for becoming infected with hepatitis B.
Job risk factors include:
- Handling blood or body fluids as a routine part of your job. This includes health care workers, such as doctors, dentists, nurses, and blood and lab technicians, and students in these jobs. It also includes morticians and embalmers.
- Being an employee or resident of an institution for people who have developmental disabilities.
- Being an employee or inmate of a prison.
Lifestyle risk factors include:
- Being born in, or travelling to, parts of the world where hepatitis B is common or where a large number of people have been infected for a long time. Such areas include Southeast and Central Asia, the islands of the South Pacific, the Amazon River basin, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and China.
- Being a man who has sex with men.
- Being sexually active. This includes having unprotected sex with someone who is infected with the virus or whose sexual history is unknown to you.
- Having more than one sex partner.
- Living with someone who has a chronic hepatitis B infection.
- Getting body piercings or tattoos from someone who doesn’t sterilize his or her equipment.
- Sharing needles or other equipment to inject illegal drugs.
Other factors include:
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Chronic Hepatitis B Complications
Chronic hepatitis B can lead to
- cirrhosis, a condition in which scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents your liver from working normally. Scar tissue also partly blocks the flow of blood through the liver. As cirrhosis gets worse, the liver begins to fail.
- liver failure, in which your liver is badly damaged and stops working. Liver failure is also called end-stage liver disease. People with liver failure may require a liver transplant.
- liver cancer. Your doctor may suggest blood tests and an ultrasound or another type of imaging test to check for liver cancer. Finding cancer at an early stage improves the chance of curing the cancer.
How Many People Have Hepatitis B
In the United States, an estimated 862,000 people were chronically infected with HBV in 2016. New cases of HBV infection in the United States had been decreasing until 2012. Since that time, reported cases of acute hepatitis B have been fluctuating around 3,000 cases per year. In 2018, 3,322 cases of acute hepatitis B were reported however, because of low case detection and reporting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were 21,600 acute hepatitis B infections. New HBV infections are likely linked to the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States.
Globally, HBV is the most common blood-borne infection with an estimated 257 million people infected according to the World Health Organization .
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Why Is The Hepb Vaccine Recommended
People who dont know they’re infected can spread the hepatitis B virus. So it cant be avoided just by being careful. That’s why health experts recommend that all babies get the vaccine right from birth.
The HepB injection usually creates long-term immunity. Most infants who get the HepB series are protected from hepatitis B infection beyond childhood, into their adult years.
Eliminating the risk of infection also decreases risk for cirrhosis of the liver, chronic liver disease, and liver cancer.
Hiv And Hbv Coinfection
About 2% of people with HIV in the United States are coinfected with HBV both infections have similar routes of transmission. People with HIV are at greater risk for complications and death from HBV infection. All people with HIV are recommended to be tested for HBV, and if susceptible, are further recommended to receive the hepatitis B vaccination or, if chronically infected, evaluated for treatment to prevent liver disease and liver cancer. For more information about HIV and HBV coinfection, visit HIV.govâs pages about hepatitis B and HIV coinfection.
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Try To Control Itching
People who have hepatitis sometimes have itchy skin. You can control itching by keeping cool and out of the sun, wearing cotton clothing, or using over-the-counter antihistamines such as a non-drowsy one like loratadine or one that may make you sleepy like diphenhydramine . Talk to your doctor before taking these medicines.
You Can Have It And Not Know It
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus . HBV is far more infectious than HIV and can be prevented by a vaccine. People who have not been vaccinated may be at risk of getting infected.
About 95 percent of adults will recover within 6 months of becoming infected and as a result will develop lifelong protection against it. The remaining 5 percent are unable to clear the virus and will become chronically infected. Chronic hepatitis B infection is treatable.
It is estimated that less than 1 percent of Canada’s population is infected with either acute or chronic HBV. People who are infected before the age of 7 are at a higher risk of developing chronic infection. In 2011, the overall reported rate of acute hepatitis B infection in Canada was 0.6 reported cases per 100,000 people living in Canada.
Why is hepatitis B a health concern?
Many people infected with HBV do not know they have the virus because symptoms can take two to six months to appear and only about 50 percent of people develop symptoms. During this time, they can spread the infection to others. You may not know you have this infection until damage has already been done to your liver. Potential complications from chronic HBV infection include cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure, liver cancer and premature death.
Why do I need my liver?
How is hepatitis B spread?
HBV is spread through contact with infected blood and body fluids including semen and vaginal fluid.
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When Hepatitis Becomes Chronic
A hepatitis B or C infection may become chronic but not produce symptoms for decades. Importantly, however, the virus can continue to cause extensive liver damage even when youre asymptomatic. While it can take decades to develop, hepatitis B and C can eventually lead to liver cancer.
The potential for significant illness makes screening for hepatitis imperative, especially for individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. Routine screening is also recommended during pregnancy because hepatitis viruses can pass from mother to baby at birth.
Who Should Get The Hepatitis B Vaccine
All newborn babies should get vaccinated. You should also get the shot if you:
- Come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of friends or family members
- Use needles to take recreational drugs
- Have sex with more than one person
- Are a health care worker
- Work in a day-care center, school, or jail
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When Should I Seek Immediate Care
- You have a sudden, severe headache and head pressure.
- You have new or increased bruising or red or purple dots on your skin.
- You have bleeding that does not stop easily.
- Your abdomen is swollen.
- You have severe nausea or cannot stop vomiting.
- You see blood in your urine or bowel movements, or you vomit blood.
- You have new or increased yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
- You have severe pain in your upper abdomen.
Outlook For Hepatitis B
The vast majority of people infected with hepatitis B in adulthood are able to fight off the virus and fully recover within 1 to 3 months.
Most will then be immune to the infection for life.
Babies and children with hepatitis B are more likely to develop a chronic infection.
Chronic hepatitis B affects around:
- 90% of babies with hepatitis B
- 20% of older children with hepatitis B
- 5% of adults with hepatitis B
Page last reviewed: 30 January 2019 Next review due: 30 January 2022
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What Do I Need To Know About Having Hepatitis B
If you have chronic hepatitis B, getting the right medical care can help you stay healthy. Taking good care of your liver is important. Talk with your doctor before you take any prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or nutritional supplements to make sure they wont hurt your liver. You should also stay away from alcohol, because drinking can damage your liver.
Diagnosis Of Hepatitis B
Blood tests are available to determine if you are or have been infected with hepatitis B. It may take 6 months from the time of infection before a blood test can detect antibodies to hepatitis B, so follow-up testing may be required. During this 6-month period, until you know whether you are infected or not, take action to prevent potential infection of other people.
There are also tests that can assess liver damage from hepatitis B. The interpretation of these tests can be complicated and specialist advice is needed, so talk to your doctor.
All pregnant women are tested for hepatitis B. If you are found to have chronic hepatitis B, your doctor can help reduce the risk of transferring the infection to your newborn child.
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