What is the Treatment for Hepatitis B?
The goals for treating acute Hepatitis B include:
- Assuring adequate nutrition and hydration
- Preventing further damage to the liver (eliminate alcohol consumption)
- Avoiding transmission of the virus to others
- Bed rest, if necessary
There are no medications to treat acute Hepatitis B and most cases of HBV are mild and do not require hospitalization. Only people who are at high risk for complications, such as pregnant women, the elderly, people with serious underlying medical conditions or those who become significantly dehydrated from excessive nausea and vomiting need to be hospitalized.
The goals for treating chronic Hepatitis B include:
- Preserving liver function and preventing liver damage (eliminate alcohol consumption)
- Boosting the immune system to help fend off damage from the virus
Conventional medicines are used in the treatment of chronic HBV. The first medication found to be effective for chronic Hepatitis B and approved by the FDA in 1992 was interferon. Interferon is not without its side effects. At times, the side effects may be so severe that discontinuation of the drug becomes a necessity. Treatment with interferon, however, has been shown to decrease the incidence of long-term complications of Hepatitis B, such as liver failure and the need for liver transplantation.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Hepatitis B Information for the Public" http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/B/index.htm Retrieved February 10, 2011
Dolan, Mathew, The Hepatitis Handbook. North Atlantic Books, 1999.
Palmer, MD, Melissa. Dr. Melissa Palmer’s Guide to Hepatitis & Liver Disease. New York: Avery Trade, 2004.