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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Hepatitis B is an 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 (long-term) when a person has symptoms for 6 months or longer.
Seek care immediately 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 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.
Call your doctor 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.
- Check with your healthcare provider before you take any medicine. This includes over-the-counter medicine, herbs, and vitamins. Some medicines can affect or damage your liver.
- Antiviral medicines help fight the virus that causes hepatitis B and keep it from spreading in your body.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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.
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. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- 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:
- 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 your sex partners that you have hepatitis B. Use a condom during sex. Even if you have acute hepatitis B and your infection goes away, you can still spread the virus for up to 6 months.
- Protect your baby if you are pregnant. You will be checked for hepatitis B during each pregnancy. This is done even if you received the hepatitis B vaccine or were tested before. Your healthcare provider may recommend you get the hepatitis B vaccine if you never received it. The vaccine will help protect you from an HBV infection during pregnancy. You may need to have an HBV infection treated before you give birth. Your baby will need the hepatitis B vaccine at birth if you plan to breastfeed. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on how to protect your baby from HBV.
- Do not donate blood, organs, or tissues. Donations are screened for HBV, but it is best not to donate at all.
Prevent the spread of germs:
- Wash your hands often. Wash your hands several times each day. Wash after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, and before you prepare or eat food. Use soap and water every time. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers. Wash the front and back of your hands, and in between your fingers. Use the fingers of one hand to scrub under the fingernails of the other hand. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water for several seconds. Then dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if soap and water are not available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
- Cover a sneeze or cough. Use a tissue that covers your mouth and nose. Throw the tissue away in a trash can right away. Use the bend of your arm if a tissue is not available. Wash your hands well with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer.
- Stay away from others while you are sick. Avoid crowds as much as possible.
- Ask about vaccines you may need. Talk to your healthcare provider about your vaccine history. He or she will tell you which vaccines you need, and when to get them.
- Get the influenza (flu) vaccine as soon as recommended each year. The flu vaccine is available starting in September or October. Flu viruses change, so it is important to get a flu vaccine every year.
- Get the pneumonia vaccine if recommended. This vaccine is usually recommended every 5 years. Your provider will tell you when to get this vaccine, if needed.
Follow up with your doctor as directed:
You may need ongoing tests or treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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 Hepatitis B (Discharge Care)
IBM Watson Micromedex
Symptoms and treatments
Mayo Clinic Reference
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