Hepatitis B (HBV) Treatment in Hickory, NC
Are you suddenly experiencing nausea and vomiting? Do you have dark urine or yellowing of your skin and eyes? It could be hepatitis B (HBV), a viral infection that affects your liver. HBV is one of several types of viral hepatitis.
While hep B has no cure, a timely diagnosis can help your doctor rule out other medical conditions and help you manage your symptoms effectively. To speak with a hepatitis B specialist today in Hickory, call (423) 482-8711 or contact AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center online.
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects how your liver functions. While symptoms typically take 1-4 months to appear after you’ve contracted the virus, your symptoms may appear within two weeks. In some cases, hep B causes no symptoms at all.
Usual symptoms of hep B include:
- nausea and vomiting
- yellowing of your skin and eyes
- joint pain
- abdominal pain
- weakness and fatigue
- appetite loss
What Causes Hepatitis B?
Infections occur when the hepatitis B virus, or HBV, is passed to another person through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. It can’t be spread through talking, sneezing, or coughing.
The most common ways of spreading HBV are:
- sexual contact: unprotected sex with someone infected with hep B can easily pass the virus to you through blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions
- needle sharing: easily spread by the blood, hep B infects many people who share needles for recreational drug use
- accidental needle prick: can infect healthcare workers handling hep B contaminated needles
- mother to child: pregnant women can pass hep B to their children during birth, but newborn babies can be vaccinated to avoid infection in almost all cases
Hep B can be acute or chronic. Each type presents unique complications, including:
- acute: infections lasting 6 months or less; the immune system often remove virus; most adults get acute infections that can become chronic
- chronic: infections lasting longer than 6 months, sometimes for life; increases the risk of serious illnesses like cirrhosis and liver cancer; younger patients have a higher chance of infection becoming chronic
Take these preventative measures to avoid getting infected or passing hep B to others:
- get vaccinated
- use protection during sex
- wear gloves when cleaning up blood or bodily fluids; sterilizing contaminated areas with bleach
- cover open wounds
- never share gum, razors, toothbrushes, nail care items, or earrings
- avoid recreational drugs, especially ones that use needles
- ensure tattoo shop needles are properly sterilized
How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed?
Usually, your doctor will start by giving you a physical examination, then recommend these tests to confirm or rule out hep B:
- blood test: your blood sample can determine whether you’re infected; detect immunity to the condition
- liver ultrasound: if you have liver damage, an ultrasound test can determine its extent
- liver biopsy: your doctor may check for liver damage by removing a small sample of liver tissue with a thin needle
Doctors often test healthy people who are at a high risk of contracting hep B because the virus can cause irreversible liver damage before symptoms begin. If you have a hep B infection and you’re pregnant, you risk passing hep B to your infant. Talk to your doctor about whether hepatitis B screening is recommended in your case.
How is Hepatitis B treated?
Although Hepatitis B has no cure, recent studies show that the vaccine offers strong, long-lasting protection from the dangers and complications of hep B with very little incidence of concerning side effects.1
The National Institute of Health recommends that adults and children get the hep B vaccine, especially if they are in higher-risk situations. Younger people who contract hep B are at a much higher risk of getting chronic infections and potentially life-threatening health conditions later in life.
Your doctor will advise giving your newborn immune globulin and the hep B vaccine at birth and during the first year after.
However, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), operated jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA, has reported thousands of adverse reactions to hepatitis B vaccines in infants, some serious enough to cause hospitalization, life-threatening health events or permanent disabilities. Speak with your healthcare provider about an infant vaccine delivery schedule that you’re comfortable with.
If you believe you’ve contracted hep B, see your doctor immediately for diagnosis. A vaccine and an injection of immune globulin can boost your immune system, helping it fight the infection. Your body should clear the infection within a few months.
For acute infections, your doctor will likely tell you to get lots of rest and avoid strenuous activities until your body removes the infection by itself. At this point, you’ll become an “inactive carrier” of hep B.
Other treatments include:
- managing nausea: stay hydrated and avoid malnutrition by eating what you can
- quitting drinking alcohol: your inflamed liver may not process alcohol
- taking medications with care: medications like acetaminophen may cause liver damage
For chronic infections, your doctor may recommend certain medications, like DAAs or Ribavirin, that boost your immune system. Potential side effects include:
- slow heart rate
- raised liver markers, which indicate liver problems
Regenerative medicine practitioners strive to stimulate affected liver cells to regenerate themselves by delivering mesenchymal stem cells directly to the patient’s damaged liver cells.
The Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation as well as Stem Cells Translational Medicine have recently published studies demonstrating that the liver function of patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) improved after delivery of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells.
Although the FDA has approved stem therapy for treatment of the life-threatening Veno-Occlusive liver disease, stem cells are not yet FDA approved for Hep B treatment. Stem cell liver therapy research is ongoing. You can find the latest clinical studies in medical journals and government websites. Discuss prevention and treatment options with your health care practitioner.
Reserve Your Appointment Now
Hepatitis B is a serious viral infection that can cause liver damage and severe health complications. If you suspect you’ve contracted the virus, it’s crucial to seek medical help.
To speak with a hepatitis B specialist today in Hickory, call (423) 482-8711 or contact AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center online.
AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center
Address1604 Lamons Lane
Johnson City, TN 37604
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm