Things you need to know
- Sexual contact is one of the common causes of Hepatitis B and is more severe and dangerous than HIV/AIDS
- A vaccine is one of the best ways to prevent Hepatitis B because once infected, there is no cure for Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis B is one of the most common and leading causes of liver cancer
Hepatitis B is known as a silent infection for which there isn’t any easily visible symptom. It is a liver-infecting virus that can cause both acute and chronic illnesses. The virus typically transfers from mother to child during labour or delivery or can be contacted through blood or other bodily fluids during sexual intercourse with an infected partner or exposure to infected needles or instruments. There are available hepatitis B vaccines available to prevent the spread of this virus.
Symptoms of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B symptoms and signs range from being mild to severe. The symptoms may occur weeks after being infected or 3-4 months after being infected. Below are common symptoms of Hepatitis B.
- Pain in the abdomen
- Joint discomfort
- Excessive weight loss
- Vomiting and nausea
- Skin and eyes turning yellow (jaundice)
- Dark coloured urine
Causes of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B infection is known to be caused by HBV (hepatitis B virus). The mode of transmission of the virus can happen in several ways, such as through blood, salvia or sperms or any other bodily discharges. But rest be sure, it does not spread by coughing or sneezing.
- If, while having sexual intercourse, you have unprotected sex with an infected person, there is a high risk that you may be infected with hepatitis B
- The virus can easily be transmitted to the other person by coming in contact with the other person’s blood, sperm, vaginal fluid or saliva
- HBV can easily be transmitted by infected blood-contaminated needles and syringes that may be shared by unethical healthcare workers
- HBV-infected pregnant mothers can spread the virus to their unborn children. As a result, immunisation is advised
Transmission of Hepatitis
In highly endemic areas, where diseases are widely spread, hepatitis B is the most commonly spread virus that spreads from the mother to the child at the time of birth if the mother has previously been infected with the virus.
Hepatitis B is spread by pricky needles such as inking and piercing or through contact with contaminated blood and physiological fluids such as saliva, menstrual, vaginal, and sperm secretions. Reusing contaminated needles, injections, or syringes can also spread the virus.
According to the World Health Organization, the hepatitis B virus can persist outside the body for at least 7 days. During this time, if the virus enters the body of someone who has not been vaccinated, it might still cause infection. The hepatitis B virus has an incubation period of 30 to 180 days
Diagnosis of Hepatitis
The following tests can aid in the diagnosis of hepatitis B or its complications
- Blood tests- Blood tests can detect hepatitis B viral symptoms in your body and will help in assessing whether you have acute or chronic hepatitis B
- Ultrasound- A special type of ultrasonography that can reveal the extent of liver damage
- Biopsy – A biopsy of the liver is performed to check for any liver damage or liver disease
Treatment of Hepatitis
If in case you have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, and are looking for th best treatment available. It is first important to know the cause of Hepatitis and the severity of the infection. Following are some of the treatment methods used depending on if it is acute hepatitis infection or chronic hepatitis infection
- Injection of immunoglobulin (an antibody)
- Proper nutrition and plenty of fluids help the body fight off the infection
- Antiviral drugs or medications
- Interferon injections
- Liver transplant in severe cases
Complication of Hepatitis
There can be several serious complications of hepatitis B
- Liver cancer- The risk of liver cancer increases in people affected with hepatitis B
- Liver failure- There might be damage to the liver leading to the continuous deterioration of the liver functioning, therefore, leading to the liver shutdown
- Cirrhosis (scarring of th liver)- Inflammation related to hepatitis B can lead to severe scarring and damage to the liver, making it difficult for the liver to function
Prevention of Hepatitis
For prevention of Hepatitis, there is typically a hepatitis B vaccine given within 6 months, covering 3-4 injections. The vaccine for hepatitis B is recommended to:
- Newborns/ infants
- Children who have not been vaccinated at the time of birth
- People who work or live around people who have hepatitis B
- Healthcare workers or doctors who are at risk of being in contact with patients who might have this infection
- People who have multiple sexual partners
- A person who has a partner who is infected with hepatitis B
- People who are living with chronic liver diseases or are at end-stage kidney disease
Survival after being infected with hepatitis B typically depends on its damage to the body. However, in most cases, if diagnosed at an early stage, it can be treated well, thereby increasing the survival rates.
An individual who does not develop any severe symptoms can go 8-12 weeks without knowing that they have hepatitis B.
Depending on the severity of the injection in the body, the doctors recommend the best suitable treatment for treating hepatitis B.
Gaining weight or losing weight is common after being infected with the hepatitis B virus.