Hepatitis is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. There is a vaccine available for it, but if you do contract the virus, your body can typically fight it off just fine without even experiencing any symptoms.
When your body fights off the virus effectively, it’s referred to as acute hepatitis B. However, if the virus lingers in your body for more than six months, it’s called chronic — or lifelong — hepatitis B.
If you find yourself diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B, you’re probably wondering what the outlook is and what treatment entails. Serge Lartchenko, MD, and the rest of our infectious disease specialist team at the Texas Infectious Disease Institute in Richardson, Texas, are well-experienced with addressing and managing hepatitis B.
In this blog, we discuss more about this virus and what to expect when you’re treated for it.
You receive a chronic hepatitis B diagnosis after testing positive for hepatitis B for more than six months. It simply means the virus is still lingering in your blood and liver and your body can’t eliminate it. The younger you are, the higher the risk of continual infection is.
If you received a chronic hepatitis B diagnosis, you may be surprised since you may have contracted it a long time ago without even knowing it. This is because hepatitis B often doesn’t present with symptoms other than fatigue or a general feeling of being unwell.
Chronic hepatitis B can increase your risk of developing advanced liver disease such as cirrhosis. So, if you have worsening symptoms such as easy bruising and bleeding, jaundice, confusion, dark-colored urine, or swelling of your extremities, it’s important to seek medical help quickly.
While a chronic hepatitis B diagnosis might feel scary, most people with this medical condition still live long and healthy lives. There are plenty of treatment options that can keep the damaging power of the virus to a minimum.
One of the most important things you can do when living with chronic hepatitis B is to have your liver regularly monitored. Check in with our team every six months to look for any signs of liver disease or liver cancer. When these conditions are caught early, the prognosis is much better.
In addition, you will probably need to take oral antiviral medications to keep the virus at bay. You may have to take them on a regular basis or intermittently. How often you take them depends greatly on your risk of liver complications.
Managing chronic hepatitis B also requires you to make healthy lifestyle choices. You want to avoid alcohol consumption, smoking, or eating greasy foods since all these things can put tremendous stress on your liver. Always report any new medications you take in order to check for possible effects on your liver.
For expert hepatitis B and other infectious disease care, look no further than our team at the Texas Infectious Disease Institute. Set up an appointment over the phone at 469-960-4413 or through our online booking feature today.