Treatment for hepatitis B depends on how long you've been infected for:
Emergency treatment can also be given soon after possible exposure to the hepatitis B virus to stop an infection developing.
See your GP as soon as possible if you think you may have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus.
To help stop you becoming infected, they can give you:
These are most effective if given within 48 hours after possible exposure to hepatitis B,but you can still have them up to a week after exposure.
If you're diagnosed with hepatitis B, your GP will usually refer you toa specialist, such as a hepatologist (liver specialist).
Many people don't have any troublesome symptoms, but if you do feel unwell, it can help to:
Most people recover completely in a couple of months, but you'll be advised to have regular blood tests to checkthat you're free of the virus and haven't developed chronic hepatitis B.
If blood tests show that you still have hepatitis B after six months, your doctor may recommend medication to reduce the risk of complications of hepatitis B andregular tests to assess thehealth of your liver.
Treatment is usually offered if:
Hepatitis Bmedicationscan help keep the virus under control and stop it damagingyour liver, althoughthey won'tnecessarily cure the infection and some people need lifelong treatment.
The main medicines for chronic hepatitis B are outlined below.
If your liver is working fairly well, the first treatment offered is usually a medicine calledpeginterferon alfa 2-a.
This stimulates the immune system to attack the hepatitis B virus and regain control over it. It's usually given by injection once a week for 48 weeks.
Common side effects includeflu-like symptoms, such as afever and muscle and joint pain, after you startto take the medicine, although these should improve with time.
Tests will be carried out during treatment to see how wellit's working. Alternative medicines may be recommended if it's not helping.
Ifyour liver isn't working well, or peginterferon alpha-2a is not suitable or not working for you, your doctor may recommend trying antiviral medication instead.
Thiswillusuallybe either tenofoviror entecavir, both of whichare taken as tablets.
Common side effects of these medicines include feeling sick, vomiting and dizziness .
If you have hepatitis, you should:
People with hepatitis B can usually have a healthy pregnancy, but it's a good idea to discuss your plans with a doctor first as you may need extra care and your medications may need to be changed.
There's a risk of pregnant women with hepatitis B passing the infection onto their child around the time of the birth, but this risk can be reduced by ensuring the baby is vaccinated shortly after they're born.
Read about hepatitis B, an infection of the liver that's caused by a virus. Find out about the symptoms, causes, treatments and risks of the condition.
Read about the main symptoms of hepatitis B and how long they usually last.
You can become infected with hepatitis B if you're not immune to the virus and you come into contact with infected blood or body fluids.