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Living with Hepatitis

Adults and HBV

Will I recover?
The first question most people ask is whether or not they will recover from a hepatitis B infection.  The answer is directly related to that age at which a person is infected.  Most infected adults will recover without any problems, but unfortunately, most infected babies and children will develop chronic hepatitis B infections.

Acute Vs. Chronic
A hepatitis B infection is considered to be “acute” during the first 6 months after being exposed. This is the average period of time it takes to recover from a hepatitis B infection. If you still test positive for the hepatitis B virus (HBsAg+) after 6 months, you are considered to have a "chronic" hepatitis B infection, which can last a lifetime.

What should I do if I am diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B?
Make an appointment with a hepatologist (liver specialist) or gastroenterologist familiar with hepatitis B. This specialist will order blood tests and possibly a liver ultrasound to evaluate your hepatitis B status and the health of your liver. Your doctor will probably want to see you at least once or twice a year to monitor you and determine if you would benefit from treatment.

Most people with chronic hepatitis B can expect to live long, healthy lives. It is important to know that you can pass the virus along to others, even if you don’t feel sick. This is why it’s so important that you make sure that all close household contacts and sex partners are vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Consider following these helpful tips:

  • Avoid alcohol and smoking as they can be extremely harmful to a liver already infected with the hepatitis B virus.
  • Talk to your doctor before taking any prescription, over the counter medication, or herbal remedies.
  • Although there is no special diet for people who have chronic hepatitis B, a healthy, well-balanced diet that is low-fat and includes plenty of vegetables is recommended.
  • Avoid eating raw shellfish, since they can contain bacteria that are harmful to your liver.

Is there a cure for chronic hepatitis B?
Right now, there is no cure for chronic hepatitis B, but the good news is there are  treatments that can help slow the progression of liver disease by slowing down the virus. If there is less hepatitis B virus being produced, then there is less damage being done to the liver. Sometimes these drugs can even get rid of the virus, although this is not common.

With all of the new exciting research, there is great hope that a complete cure will be found for chronic hepatitis B in the near future. Visit our Drug Watch for a list of other promising drugs in development.

Should I be on medication?
It is important to understand that not every person with chronic hepatitis B needs to be on medication. You should talk to your doctor about whether you are a good candidate for drug therapy or a clinical trial. Be sure that you understand the pros and cons of each treatment option. Whether you decide to start treatment or not, you should be seen regularly by a liver specialist or a doctor knowledgeable about hepatitis B.


Page last modified February 3, 2012

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