Diagnosing Hepatitis B

At the beginning of a hepatitis B diagnosis, the healthcare provider will ask the patient a number of questions about his or her symptoms, family history of medical conditions, alcohol and/or drug use, and sexual history, among other things. Diagnosing hepatitis B also involves performing a physical exam and looking for signs and symptoms of hepatitis B. Finally, the healthcare provider will also consider other conditions that can share similar symptoms with hepatitis B (such as liver cancer and autoimmune hepatitis).

How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed?

In order to make a hepatitis B diagnosis, the doctor will begin by asking a number of questions about your medical history, including questions about:
  • Symptoms
  • Current medical conditions
  • Current medications
  • Family history of medical conditions
  • Any recent travel
  • Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Sexual history.
The doctor will also perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of hepatitis B.

Tests Used to Diagnose Hepatitis B

If the doctor suspects hepatitis B, he or she will order certain tests to help make the diagnosis. Liver enzyme tests, which look at certain levels of liver enzymes in the blood, are among these tests that may be used to diagnose hepatitis B. Other tests will look for antibodies the body has made against the hepatitis B virus (see Hepatitis B Testing for more information on what the results of these tests mean).
The doctor may also do a liver biopsy. A liver biopsy is a simple test during which the doctor removes a tiny piece of your liver through a needle. The doctor then checks the piece of liver for signs of hepatitis B and liver damage.

What Is Hepatitis B?

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