Hepatitis B (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
What Is the Follow-up for Hepatitis B?
If an individual has acute hepatitis B, a health care practitioner will draw blood and examine the person periodically to see if the infection is resolving. If the person develops chronic hepatitis B, they will need periodic examinations and blood tests on an ongoing basis. If these tests indicate that the virus is actively damaging the liver, the health care practitioner may suggest a liver biopsy or begin antiviral therapy. The individual will also be given a vaccine against hepatitis A, which is an unrelated virus that may cause severe liver disease in people who already carry hepatitis B.
Chronic hepatitis B is associated with hepatocellular carcinoma. Fortunately, this is a rare cancer. A blood test can be used to detect a marker for this cancer or the cancer can be detected by abdominal ultrasound. Persons with chronic hepatitis B are usually screened periodically (every 6 to 12 months) for hepatocellular carcinoma, although it is not clear if this screening improves survival.
How Do You Prevent Hepatitis B?
In addition to the hepatitis B vaccine, other ways to protect yourself from HBV infection include:
Is Hepatitis B Curable?
Some people rapidly improve after acute hepatitis B. Others have a more prolonged disease course with very slow improvement over several months, or with periods of improvement followed by worsening of symptoms.
A small group of people suffer rapid progression of their illness during the acute stage and develop severe liver damage (fulminate hepatitis). This may occur over days to weeks and may be fatal.
Other complications of HBV include development of a chronic HBV infection. People with chronic HBV infection are at further risk for liver damage (cirrhosis), liver cancer, liver failure, and death.
Hepatitis B Resources and Information
American Liver Foundation
Hepatitis B Foundation
Hepatitis Foundation International
Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/19/2016
Bhupinder Anand, MD
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