Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B Virus. Hepatitis B can become chronic for some people, lasting longer than six months. Chronic hepatitis B can cause more serious liver damage, including liver failure, cancer or permanent scarring of the liver. Adults are more likely to recover from hepatitis B without lapsing into the chronic state. Children and infants are in more danger of the chronic state and its further damages. Hepatitis B is contracted through bodily fluids. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B, but there is no cure.

Hepatitis B Symptoms

Hepatitis B affects the liver. Acute, or short-term, hepatitis can last several weeks. Symptoms usually begin occurring one to four months after infection. They can include flu-like symptoms and jaundice.

Symptoms of chronic hepatitis B are more serious, including severe and permanent liver damage.

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver failure
  • Liver cirrhosis (permanent scarring)

Hepatitis B Causes

Hepatitis B is a viral infection transferred through blood and other bodily fluids. There are many ways to contract it. Most commonly, it is passed from mother to child during pregnancy.

  • Passed from mother to child in the womb
  • Unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Dirty needles
  • Hepatitis B can survive outside the body for seven days — during this time it can still cause infection

Hepatitis B Diagnosis

Hepatitis B is diagnosed with a blood test. Your doctor may also perform a liver biopsy to check for liver damage.

You should be tested for hepatitis B if

  • You live with or give care to someone with hepatitis B
  • Have visited or are from an area with high rates of hepatitis B (East and South Asia, the Pacific Islands, sub-Saharan Africa, and eastern Europe)
  • You have a sexual partner with hepatitis B
  • You use intravenous drugs
  • You have spent time in prison
  • You are pregnant

Hepatitis B Treatment

There is no cure for hepatitis B. There are treatments to manage it and the damage it causes. There are also vaccines to prevent the infection from occurring. If you think you have come in contact with hepatitis B, you should contact your doctor immediately, as there is a preventive treatment that may stop you from being infected.

  • Rest and good nutrition
  • Antivirals
  • Interferon injections
  • liver transplant