Within seven days of exposure to hepatitis B through a needle stick, a patient who does not have the immunizations for the disease should receive a hepatitis B immunoglobulin shot and take the first of three vaccine shots. After sexual contact, this same routine should begin within two weeks. The sooner a person receives this treatment the more effective it is, according to Mayo Clinic. If a patient develops hepatitis B, treatment depends on whether it is acute or chronic.
Most patients who develop the symptoms of acute hepatitis B do not require the antiviral medication, states Mayo Clinic. These patients should avoid alcohol and drugs, eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids. If they are very sick, their doctor may prescribe medication for the disease. Even though they do not require medication, acute hepatitis B patients should follow up regularly with their doctor and have regular blood tests to test their liver and the progress of the disease in the body.
Patients with chronic hepatitis B are more likely to require medication. Its purpose is to stop any further damage to the liver by slowing the multiplication of the virus, explains Mayo Clinic. Patients who develop severe liver damage may require a liver transplant.