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Hepatitis B, Ambulatory Care

Hepatitis B

is inflammation of the liver caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The infection is called acute when a person first becomes infected. The infection becomes chronic when a person has symptoms for 6 months or longer. Chronic hepatitis B is less common in children than in adults.


Common symptoms include the following:

  • Dark urine or pale bowel movements
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), itchy skin, or skin rash
  • Joint pain and body aches
  • Pain in the right upper side of your abdomen

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Sudden, severe headache and head pressure
  • New or increased bruising or red or purple dots on skin
  • Bleeding that does not stop easily
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Severe nausea or not able to stop vomiting
  • Blood in urine or bowel movements, or vomiting blood
  • New or increased yellowing of skin or the whites of the eyes
  • Severe pain in upper abdomen

Treatment for hepatitis B

may include antiviral medicine to help fight HBV and keep it from spreading in your body. You may need a transfusion of plasma or platelets if your blood is not clotting as it should. Plasma and platelets are parts of your blood that help your blood clot. You will get the transfusion through an IV. Surgery for a liver transplant may be done if you have severe liver disease or liver failure.

Manage hepatitis B:

  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can increase liver damage. Talk to your healthcare provider if you drink alcohol and need help to stop.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage hepatitis B. Smoking can also lead to more liver damage. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats and fish, and whole-grain breads. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
  • Drink more liquids. Liquids help your liver function properly. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

Prevent the spread of HBV:

HBV spreads when you have contact with infected blood or body fluids, such as saliva (spit) and semen. The following can help you prevent the spread of HBV:

  • Cover any open cuts or scratches. If blood from a wound gets on a surface, clean the surface with bleach right away. Put on gloves before you clean. Throw away any items with blood or body fluids on them, as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Do not share personal items. These items include toothbrushes, nail clipper, and razors. Do not share needles.
  • Tell household members 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. Regular handwashing is important for you and everyone in your home. Everyone should wash after the bathroom and before eating.
  • Tell your sex partners that you have HBV. 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 healthcare provider for more information on keeping your baby from getting HBV. He will need a vaccination or treatment if you plan to breastfeed.
  • Do not donate blood, organs, or tissues. Donations are screened for HBV, but it is best not to donate at all.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need ongoing tests or treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2016 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.

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