Have you recently been told you have hepatitis B? Dealing with the illness and waiting out the next six months to determine if your case will resolve itself or become chronic can be nerve-wracking.
Fortunately, 90 percent of adults who are infected will clear or resolve an acute hepatitis B infection. Acute patients do not typically require hospitalization, or even medication, during this time. If you are symptomatic, (some symptoms include jaundice, dark urine, abdominal pain, fever, general malaise) you may be anxiously conferring with your doctor, but if you are asymptomatic, you might not feel compelled to take the diagnosis seriously. The response to both is to maintain a balance. Do not ignore a hepatitis B diagnosis, but don’t let it consume you.
Your doctor will be monitoring your blood work over the next few months to ensure you clear the virus. Your job is to start loving your liver …today. STOP drinking alcoholic beverages. Refrain from smoking. Your liver is a non-complaining organ, but you cannot live without it. Make everything in your diet liver-friendly and healthy.
Avoid processed foods, fatty foods and junk. Get advice before taking prescription medications, herbal remedies, or over-the-counter drugs – especially pain relievers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen and paracetamol. They can be dangerous to a liver that is battling hepatitis B. Get plenty of rest, and exercise gently, if you are able.
Don’t forget that you are infectious during this time, and that loved ones, sexual partners and household contacts should be vaccinated for hepatitis B. Be sure you and all contacts follow standard precautions. If anyone fears exposure, encourage screening to ensure they did not contract hepatitis B as a result of your infection. The hepatitis B vaccine is not effective if you are already infected with the virus.
On the flip-side… Do not let this new hepatitis B diagnosis consume you. As the weeks and months pass, you might find that your illness is not resolving, and you might worry that you are one of the unfortunate 10 percent whose infection becomes chronic. The associated stress and anxiety can be challenging, even overwhelming. It can contribute to physical symptoms you may be experiencing. Join an on-line support group, find a confidant or professional with whom you can share your fears.
When your lab results are back, and you’re told you have cleared your hepatitis B infection, be sure to get copies of your lab reports to ensure there are no mistakes. If something looks wrong, or if you’re confused, speak up and ask your doctor. It is imperative that you know if your acute case has progressed to a chronic infection.
No one wants chronic hepatitis B, but it is manageable with monitoring and there are effective treatments. If you are confused about your diagnosis or test results, feel free to contact the Hepatitis B Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are lessons to be learned from this experience. If you have resolved your acute hepatitis B infection, then you do not need to be vaccinated. However, please be sure that you help us eradicate this virus by spreading the word and ensuring everyone you know has been screened and vaccinated for Hepatitis B. And don’t forget to keep Love N’ Your Liver…