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Hepatitis B

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How Is Hepatitis B Treated?

If you get to a doctor shortly after the exposure, you'll often receive immediate immunization with the first in a series of three shots with the hepatitis B vaccination and a shot to boost the immune system to fight off the infection.

Also, take extra care of your liver! Now is not the time to drink alcohol, or take Tylenol (acetaminophen) because they can harm the liver. Check with your doctor before taking any other medications, herbal remedies, or supplements as some of them can worsen liver damage.

If your hepatitis persists beyond six months and is active (chronic active hepatitis), your doctor may prescribe much more aggressive treatment. If it's chronic but not active, your doctor may just watch you closely.

People with chronic active hepatitis are treated with a combination of drugs like the following:

  • Interferon. The immune system boosting medicine interferon is injected either daily, several times a week, or weekly for up to a year. Interferon does have some undesirable side effects, including: fatigue, depression, and loss of appetite and it can lower the number of white blood cells. There are two types of interferon: interferon-alfa (Intron) and peginterferon alfa (Pegasys). 

  • Lamivudine (Epivir). Another drug often given in combination with interferon is lamivudine (Epivir). This drug is taken orally once a day. Usually, this drug is well tolerated, but it can cause a worsening of liver functioning in rare instances. 

  • Adefovir (Hepsera). This drug is taken by pill once a day and works well in people whose disease doesn't respond to Epivir. It can cause kidney problems especially in people that already have kidney disease, but it can occur in anyone. 

  • Entecavir (Baraclude). This drug is taken by pill daily and studies are showing it may be one of the most effective antiviral drugs available for hepatitis B.
  • Viread (Tenofovir): a once daily pill.  It is also used to treat HIV and is used in patients who have both HIV and Hepatitis B.  It can also be used as a single agent for Hepatitis B. 

 

Can a Pregnant Woman Give Hepatitis to her Baby?

Yes. A pregnant woman can spread the hepatitis B virus to her baby at the time of birth. (It is unlikely that an infected woman will spread the virus to her baby during pregnancy.)

Many babies infected with hepatitis B develop long-term liver problems. All newborn babies should be given the vaccine for hepatitis at birth and two additional booster injections during their first year of life.

How Can I Avoid Becoming Infected, or Infecting Others With Hepaitis B?

The best ways to try and avoid becoming infected with hepatitis B include:

  • Get vaccinated (if you have not already been infected).
  • Use condoms every time you have sex.
  • Wear gloves when touching or cleaning up body secretions on personal items, such as bandages/band aids, tampons, and linens.
  • Cover all open cuts or wounds.
  • Do not share razors, toothbrushes, manicuring tools, or pierced jewelry with anyone.
  • Do not share chewing gum or pre-chew food for a baby.
  • Make certain that any needles for drugs, piercing, or tattooing are properly sterilized.
  • Clean areas with blood on them with one part household bleach and 9 parts water.

 

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