Treatment to prevent hepatitis B infection after exposure
If you know you've been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, call your doctor immediately. If you haven't been vaccinated or aren't sure whether you've been vaccinated or whether you responded to the vaccination, receiving an injection of hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours of coming in contact with the virus may help protect you from developing hepatitis B. You should be vaccinated at the same time.
Treatment for acute hepatitis B infection
If your doctor determines your hepatitis B infection is acute — meaning it is short-lived and will go away on its own — you may not need treatment. Instead, your doctor might recommend rest and adequate nutrition and fluids while your body fights the infection.
Treatment for chronic hepatitis B infection
If you've been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B infection, you may have treatment to reduce the risk of liver disease and prevent you from passing the infection to others. Treatments include:
- Antiviral medications. Several antiviral medications — including lamivudine (Epivir), adefovir (Hepsera), telbivudine (Tyzeka) and entecavir (Baraclude) — can help fight the virus and slow its ability to damage your liver. Talk to your doctor about which medication might be right for you.
- Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A). This synthetic version of a substance produced by the body to fight infection is used mainly for young people with hepatitis B who don't want to undergo long-term treatment or who might want to get pregnant within a few years. It's given by injection. Side effects may include depression, difficulty breathing and chest tightness.
- Liver transplant. If your liver has been severely damaged, a liver transplant may be an option. During a liver transplant, the surgeon removes your damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy liver. Most transplanted livers come from deceased donors, though a small number come from living donors who donate a portion of their livers.
Other drugs to treat hepatitis B are being developed.
Aug. 29, 2014
- Lok ASF. Clinical manifestations and natural history of hepatitis B virus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 11, 2014.
- Lok ASF. Diagnosis of hepatitis B virus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 11, 2014.
- Patient information: Hepatitis B (the basics). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 15, 2014.
- Hepatitis B FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/B/bFAQ.htm. Accessed July 11, 2014.
- Hepatitis B. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs204/en/#. Accessed July 11, 2014.
- Lok ASF. Overview of management of hepatitis B and case examples. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 15, 2014.
- Wang XY, et al. Emerging antivirals for treatment of hepatitis B. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2014;20:1777.
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