How to Diagnose and Treat Hepatitis B?

Q:
How to diagnose and treat hepatitis B?

A:
Diagnosis

Your doctor may look for signs of liver damage, such as yellowing skin or belly pain. Other tests include:

  • Blood tests can detect signs of the hepatitis B virus, see whether it’s acute or chronic, and determine if you are immune to it.
  • Liver ultrasound can show the amount of liver damage.
  • Liver biopsy can check for liver damage.

Hepatitis B can damage the liver before causing signs and symptoms. Certain people may need to get screening for it if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Live with someone who has hepatitis B
  • Have had many sexual partners
  • Have had sex with someone who has hepatitis B
  • Are a man who has sex with men
  • Have a history of a sexually transmitted illness
  • Have HIV or hepatitis C
  • Have a liver enzyme test with unexplained abnormal results
  • Receive kidney dialysis
  • Take medications that suppress the immune system, such as those used to prevent rejection after an organ transplant
  • Use illegal injected drugs
  • Are in prison
  • Were born in a country where hepatitis B is common, including Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and Eastern Europe
  • Have parents or adopted children from places where hepatitis B is common, including Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and Eastern Europe

Treatment

There are treatment to prevent hepatitis B infection after exposure and for acute hepatitis B infection:

  • An injection of immunoglobulin (an antibody) given within 12 hours of exposure to the virus may help protect you from getting sick with hepatitis B. However, it’s short-term.
  • Rest, proper nutrition and plenty of fluids are enough to fight with acute hepatitis B infection. If it’s severe, antiviral drugs or a hospital stay is needed to prevent complications.

For chronic hepatitis B infection, treatment is needed for the rest of most people’s lives. Treatment helps reduce the risk of liver disease and prevents you from passing the infection to others. They include:

  • Antiviral medications can help fight the virus and slow its ability to damage your liver.
  • Interferon injections can be used to avoid long-term treatment or for women who might want to get pregnant within a few years after completing a finite course of therapy.
  • Liver transplant will be used if your liver has been severely damaged.
* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.