Treatments Available for Hepatitis B
The treatment of hepatitis B infection depends on how active the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is and whether the patient may be at risk of developing additional liver damage such as cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). If the infection is determined to be short-term (acute) hepatitis B, then this usually will go away on its own. There are even some home remedies which can be used effectively to help relieve any symptoms of the infection and prevent further spread of the virus. Long-term (chronic) HBV infections will require additional treatments and monitoring to prevent serious liver damage.
Prevent HBV Infection after Exposure
If you discover that you have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, please call your primary health care provider immediately. An injection of hepatitis B immune globulin, if administered within the first 24 hours after exposure to the virus, could actually prevent the development of full blown hepatitis B. Most acute cases of hepatitis B are asymptomatic, which means that they produce no noticeable symptoms.
Treatment for Acute Hepatitis B Infection
If it is determined that the infection is an acute or short-term case of hepatitis B, then the patient may not require any additional treatment as these often go away on their own. Instead, doctors will work with their patients to reduce and symptoms that might manifest while their body is fighting off the infection. Additional blood tests are recommended after the infection has subsided in order to be sure that the hepatitis B virus is completely clear from the body.
Treatment for Chronic Hepatitis B Infection
Now, a more aggressive course of treatment is required for people who have contracted a chronic hepatitis B infection. Without the appropriate treatment, this infection could cause irreparable damage to the patient’s liver. The most commonly used treatments for chronic hepatitis B include:
- Antiviral Medications: Antiviral medications are going to combat the virus in the patient’s body in an attempt to keep it from causing any permanent damage to their liver. Currently, there are several antiviral medications available to treat people with hepatitis B. So, doctors will help their patients choose the medication that is most appropriate for their condition.
- Liver Transplant: Unfortunately, in cases where hepatitis B was diagnosed too late or early treatment was not effective, the patient’s liver could sustain severe damage. In these scenarios, a liver transplant may be the best option left. During this procedure, surgeons will remove the damaged liver and replace it with a healthy (pre-screened) liver. Today, most of these donated livers come from deceased donors, but a few do come from donors who are still alive and well.
Whether or not you are prescribed medication for hepatitis B, you’ll need to see your doctor on a routine basis. They will need to take blood tests so that they can monitor the health of your liver and HBV viral activity in your body. In fact, some of these tests will determine if the virus is actively multiplying within your liver, which could lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. The results of these tests will help determine if further action must be taken.