What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). For most people, hepatitis B is short term, also called acute, and lasts less than six months. But for others, the infection becomes chronic, meaning it lasts more than six months. Having chronic hepatitis B increases your risk of developing liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis — a condition that permanently scars the liver.

Hepatitis B Symptoms

Acute hepatitis B symptoms may not appear for months. However, common symptoms include:

  • Dark urine
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin (jaundice) .
Hepatitis B Symptoms

Any hepatitis B symptoms should be addressed as soon as possible. The symptoms of this viral disease worsen in adults over the age of 60.

Causes of Hepatitis B

The following are some of the most common ways of Hepatitis B transmission:

  • Sexual contact: Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner involving exposure to body fluids of the infected person.
  • Using contaminated needles: Hepatitis B is spread when a needle used on an infected person is reused on another person. Intravenous drug users carry high-risk of contracting viral disease.
  • Pregnant mothers: Pregnant women with Hepatitis B might pass the virus on to their babies. This can be avoided if the newborn baby is vaccinated.
  • Using unsterilised equipment: Getting a tattoo, body piercing, or medical or dental treatment in an unsanitary environment with contaminated equipment.
  • Blood transfusion: If hepatitis B infected blood is given to any person, it can transmit the infection to them.
  • Sharing contaminated personal articles: Sharing contaminated toothbrushes or razors might spread Hepatitis B virus.
  • Blood from an infected person contaminates an open wound: When an infected person's blood enters another person's open wound it can lead to Hepatitis B virus transmission.

Hepatitis B Risk factors

People at high risk of HBV include:

  • Infants born to HBV-infected moms.
  • Sexual relationships with HBV patients.
  • Unprotected sex with multiple partners.
  • Individuals who inject illegal drugs.
  • Residing with an HBV infected person.
  • Healthcare professionals treating HBV patients.
  • People undergoing hemodialysis
  • People with a weak immune system
  • Pregnant women

How is Hepatitis B diagnosed?

The Hepatitis B diagnosis begins with a thorough physical examination during which patients discuss the symptoms and medical history.Other tests used to detect hepatitis B include:

Diagnostic Tests

A blood test is done to examine abnormal levels of particular enzymes and to monitor white blood cell count (WBC’s). A liver function test , is a collection of blood tests used to assess liver function, may be suggested by the doctor.

Suppose hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is detected in blood tests for more than six months it indicates chronic hepatitis B.

Non-invasive imaging tests may also be performed by the doctor to assess the amount of scar tissue in the liver (called fibrosis), which results from chronic liver inflammation. These examinations include ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) , and elastography.

Liver Biopsy:

A liver biopsy involves the removal of a liver tissue sample and sending it to a pathology lab to investigate whether patients have hepatitis B and how much scar tissue is present.

Treatment of Hepatitis B

Acute hepatitis B infection has no particular treatment. The goal of treatment is to maintain good health and reduce symptoms.

Not all people with chronic hepatitis B require treatment. People who have chronic hepatitis B show no signs of current liver damage and will not require any treatment. However, in some severe cases antiviral medications or liver transplant may be needed. It is important to undergo frequent medical checkups to look for symptoms of liver damage.

Those with liver damage should be closely monitored and may require antiviral medications, frequent monitoring, and liver cancer screening Long-term use of antivirals can reduce the risk of developing liver disease. You may need to take medications for the rest of your life if you have chronic hepatitis B.

Drink lots of water, eat a healthy balanced diet, get enough rest, and avoid alcohol if you have hepatitis B disease.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is hepatitis B very serious?

Although hepatitis B can be a serious disease, the severity of the infection can vary significantly based on a number of variables, such as the age at which an individual contracts the virus, the existence of additional underlying medical disorders.

2. Is there a complete cure for hepatitis B?

Chronic hepatitis B cannot be completely cured. A virus called chronic hepatitis B can remain in the body for years or even a lifetime. Treatments are available, however, to control the infection and lower the possibility of consequences.

3. What are the 3 stages of hepatitis B?

There are 3 phases of hepatitis B specifically prodromal phase, icteric phase and convalescence phase. Marked appetite loss, along with other flu-like symptoms including low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting, are the hallmarks of the prodromal phase, which lasts for a few days.