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Viral Hepatitis B


Hepatitis B is an inflammation of the liver. It is caused by an infection of the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). The infection is called acute when a person first becomes infected. The infection becomes chronic (long-term) when a person has symptoms for 6 months or longer.



  • Check with your primary healthcare provider before you take any medicine. This includes over-the-counter medicine, herbs, and vitamins.

  • Antiviral medicines: Antiviral medicine helps fight the virus that causes hepatitis B and keep it from spreading in your body.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to have blood tests to check the function of your liver. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Limit or avoid alcohol: You will need to limit or avoid drinks with alcohol in them. Alcohol can increase your liver damage and can damage your brain and heart. Talk to your primary healthcare provider if you drink alcohol and need help to stop.

  • Quit smoking: If you have HBV, smoking can lead to further liver damage.

Prevent the spread of hepatitis B:

  • Cover any open cuts or scratches: If blood from a wound gets on a surface, clean the surface with bleach right away. Make sure you throw away any items with blood or body fluids on them, as directed.

  • Do not share personal items: These items include toothbrushes, nail clipper, and razors. Do not share needles.

  • Tell household and sexual partners that you have HBV: People who live with you should be vaccinated against HBV. If they have not been vaccinated, they may need to start treatment to help prevent infection. You also need to tell medical or dental caregivers you have HBV before you receive any kind of treatment.

  • Use a condom during sex: Even if you have acute HBV and your infection goes away, you can still spread the virus for up to 6 months.

  • Protect your baby: If you are pregnant, ask your caregiver for more information on keeping your baby from getting HBV. He will need a vaccination or treatment if you plan to breastfeed.

For more information:

  • Hepatitis B Foundation
    3805 Old Easton Road
    Doylestown , PA 18902
    Phone: 1- 215 - 489
    Web Address:
  • Hepatitis Foundation International
    504 Blick Drive
    Silver Spring , Maryland 20904-2901
    Phone: 1- 301 - 622-4200
    Phone: 1- 800 - 891-0707
    Web Address:

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • The palms of your hands are red.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have new or increased swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.

  • Your muscles get smaller and weaker.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a sudden, severe headache and head pressure.

  • You have new or increased bruising or red or purple dots on your skin. You may also have bleeding that does not stop easily.

  • Your abdomen is swollen.

  • You have severe nausea or cannot stop vomiting.

  • You see blood in your urine or bowel movements, or you vomit blood.

  • You have new or increased yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

  • You have severe pain in your upper abdomen.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Viral Hepatitis B (Discharge Care)