Not all people chronically infected with hepatitis B need treatment. For those who need it, there are several treatment options available. While no cure for hepatitis B has been found, treatment can be used to reduce the liver damage that may result in cirrhosis and liver failure.
To determine whether you need medication treatment, physician will likely check for liver cirrhosis, ALT levels and hepatitis B virus DNA levels. If a physician advises the start of treatment, preferred antiviral medication include Entecavir, Tenofovir (TDF) and Tenofovir (TAF) which are all pills taken once a day. Which treatment is right for you should be a discussion with you and your physician. Appropriate management can reduce the risk of further liver damage and liver cancer.
People chronically infected with hepatitis B can enjoy completely normal lives, but need to take some necessary precautions to avoid further liver damage.
• Get the hepatitis A vaccine.
• Avoid drinking alcohol.
• Do not share toothbrushes, razors, injection or tattoo needles to avoid transmitting hepatitis B to others because they may be tainted with blood.
• Ensure that all members of your household are tested and vaccinated if they are not already immunized.
• If you are uncertain whether your partner is protected, the proper use of latex condoms is recommended.
Pregnant women infected with hepatitis B must make sure the newborn receives hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) plus the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine at birth, and then follow-up with the second dose at 1-2 months, and the third dose at 6 months. This will be 97% effective in protecting the newborn from becoming a carrier.
Take control of your own health, learn about the management and treatments available for hepatitis B. Don't be fooled by advertisements for unproven methods of prevention and treatment.
Managing Hepatitis B
Here are the steps for those who are chronically infected:
1. Measure ALT every 6 months to assess whether treatment is appropriate. Elevated ALT levels in the blood stream can indicate active liver damage.
2. Have the AFP test done every 6 months to screen for liver cancer. AFP (Alpha-FetoProtein) is a test used to look for liver tumors in patients with chronic hepatitis B and those at high risk for liver cancer. High AFP levels can indicate the possibility of liver cancer.
3. Receive an ultrasound every year to screen for liver cancer.
4. Get the hepatitis A vaccine to avoid further damage to the liver.
5. Avoid alcohol, drugs, herbal supplements and other substances that could potentially damage the liver.
6. Have family members screened for HBsAg (Hepatitis B surface antigen) and HBsAb (Hepatitis B surface antibody), and get vaccinated if appropriate.
7. Cancer patients who are infected with HBV should start prophylactic HBV oral antiviral treatment before chemotherapy to reduce the risk of acute or fulminant hepatitis induced by cancer chemotherapy.