How to diagnose and treat hepatitis B?
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
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.