Treatment for Hepatitis B

Having an inflamed liver is a sign of hepatitis B, and its physical symptoms include vomiting and jaundice. In some cases, this may lead to a fatal disease called liver cirrhosis.

Hepatitis B that lasts beyond six months or have become serious may be treated with several medications, but not every case needs to be treated. It is very important to visit a doctor who specializes in liver diseases, even though the patient is either taking medications or not. Also, a regular laboratory test measuring liver function is needed to track disease progression and to determine possible complications.

How to treat hepatitis B?

There is currently no cure for hepatitis, but available treatments aim at decreasing the ability of the virus to multiply, decreasing inflammation, and damage the liver, as well as to increase the immune system’s ability to fight the virus. However, there is no treatment for the acute phase of hepatitis B.

Nausea and vomiting often seen with early infection is treated with fluid replacement. Meanwhile, here are drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States for treating chronic hepatitis B.

Interferon-alpha – Brand names: Intron A and Pegasys. It is a synthetic version of antiviral proteins produced by the immune system. Artificial interferon is used to treat a number of conditions and it is approved for both children and adults with hepatitis B. It is administered through injection several times a week. There is also a modified form known as peginterferon, which has been approved for treatment of hepatitis B and C. Interferon may cause side effects such as depression, headache, and flu-like symptoms.

Lamivudine – Brand name: Epivir-HBV. This is taken orally once a day for at least a year. Lamivudine is approved for use by both children and adults with chronic hepatitis B. It may have very few side effects, but its long term use could cause the hepatitis virus to become resistant to the effects of this medicine. This is why combination therapy is needed.

Adefovir dipivoxil – Brand name: Hepsera. It is an oral tablet taken once a day only by adults. Studies have shown that use of adefovir has been beneficial in reducing the amount of virus in the body without causing much resistance. The most common side effects experienced by patients taking this medicine are headaches, sore throat, and stomach pain.

Entecavir – Brand name: Baraclude. Entecavir resembles a product needed by the hepatitis B virus to continue growing. This is approved for chronic patients in whom the virus is active and replicating. Entecavir can also be used in patients with a resistant virus that lamivudine cannot fight since it is much less likely for the virus to develop resistance over it. It is taken as an oral tablet or solution once a day.