hepatitis B infection depends on how
active the virus is and whether you are at risk for liver damage such as
Treatment of short-term (acute) hepatitis B
Treatment depends on whether you:
- Have been recently infected with the virus.
- Have the symptoms of an acute
- Have chronic infection.
If you have not gotten a hepatitis B vaccine and think you may have been exposed to the virus, you
should get a shot of
hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) and the first of
three shots of
the hepatitis B vaccine(What is a PDF document?). It is important to receive this treatment within 7 days
after a needle stick and within 2 weeks after sexual contact that may have
exposed you to the virus. The sooner you receive treatment after exposure, the
better the treatment works.
If you have the symptoms of acute
infection, treatment with antiviral medicine usually isn't needed. Home treatment—such as eating well, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding alcohol and drugs—
usually will relieve your symptoms.
In some cases, you
may be given medicine to treat an acute infection. But using medicine usually isn't done unless a person is very sick.
Treatment of long-term (chronic) hepatitis B
Treatment depends on how active the
virus is in your body and your chance of liver damage. The goal of treatment
is to stop liver damage by keeping the virus from multiplying.
Antiviral medicine is used if the virus is active and you are at risk
for liver damage. Medicine slows the ability of the virus to multiply.
Antiviral treatment isn't given to everyone who
has chronic hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis B: Should I Take Antiviral Medicine for Chronic Hepatitis B?
Whether or not you take medicine, you will need
to visit your doctor regularly. He or she will do blood
tests to check your liver and the activity of the hepatitis B virus in your body.
Some of the tests can find out whether the virus is multiplying in your liver, which would increase your risk of liver damage.
If you develop advanced liver damage
and your condition becomes life-threatening, you may need
a liver transplant. But not everyone is a good candidate
for a liver transplant.