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What causes hepatitis B?

It's caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is spread through contact with the blood and body fluids of an infected person.

You may get hepatitis B if you:

  • Have sex with an infected person without using a condom.
  • Share needles (used for injecting drugs) with an infected person.
  • Get a tattoo or piercing with tools that weren't sterilized.
  • Share personal items like razors or toothbrushes with an infected person.
  • How is it treated?

    In most cases, hepatitis B goes away on its own. You can relieve your symptoms at home by resting, eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Also, find out from your doctor what medicines and herbal products to avoid, because some can make liver damage caused by hepatitis B worse.

    Treatment for chronic hepatitis B depends on whether your infection is getting worse and whether you have liver damage. Most people with chronic hepatitis B can live active, full lives by taking good care of themselves and getting regular checkups. There are medicines for chronic hepatitis B, but they may not be right for everyone. Work with your doctor to decide if medicine is right for you.

    Sometimes, chronic hepatitis B can lead to severe liver damage. If this happens, you may need a liver transplant.

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Hepatitis B is an infection of your liver. It can cause scarring of the organ, liver failure, and cancer. It can be fatal if it isn’t treated.

It’s spread when people come in contact with the blood, open sores, or body fluids of someone who has the hep B virus.

There is no specific treatment, cure, or medication for an acute HBV infection. Supportive care will depend on the symptoms.

This protocol will not cure an infection that has occurred, but it decreases the rate of acute infection.

For chronic HBV infection, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend treating the individual with an antiviral medication.

This is not a cure, but it can stop the virus from replicating and prevent its progression into advanced liver disease.

A person with chronic HBV infection can develop cirrhosis or liver cancer quickly and without warning. In low-income settings, liver cancer can be fatal within months of diagnosis.

Persons with chronic HBV infection require ongoing medical evaluation and ultrasound of the liver every 6 months to monitor for liver damage or worsening disease.

Treatment for chronic hepatitis B may include:

Antiviral medications. Several antiviral medications — including entecavir (Baraclude), tenofovir (Viread), lamivudine (Epivir), adefovir (Hepsera) and telbivudine (Tyzeka) — can help fight the virus and slow its ability to damage your liver. These drugs are taken by mouth. Talk to your doctor about which medication might be right for you.

Interferon injections. Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A) is a man-made version of a substance produced by the body to fight infection. It's used mainly for young people with hepatitis B who wish to avoid long-term treatment or women who might want to get pregnant within a few years, after completing a finite course of therapy. Interferon should not be used during pregnancy. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing and depression.

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.

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