Hepatitis B: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention And Treatment
Recently Updated On: March 7th, 2018
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Out of 5 types of hepatitis, HBV is one of them. The others are hepatitis A, C, D, and E with having some difference in terms of their type, transition, and vulnerability. Types B and C hepatitis are most likely to become chronic.
As according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 3,000 people die per year in the United States from complications caused by hepatitis B. It’s suspected that 1.4 million people in America have suffered chronic hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B Acute or Chronic
Acute hepatitis B causes to appear quickly in adults. Infants born with HBV develop only acute hepatitis B. Nearly all hepatitis B infections in infants go on to become chronic.
Acute hepatitis gradually turns into hepatitis B. Symptoms may not be noticeable unless complications develop.
Hepatitis B Causes
Hepatitis B Transmission
Most Possible causes of hepatitis B is the transmission of virus either by blood contact or unprotected sex, include:
- direct contact with infected blood
- transfer from mother to baby during birth
- being pricked with a contaminated needle
- intimate contact with a person with HBV
- oral, vaginal, and anal sex
- using a razor or any other personal item with remnants of infected fluid
Who Are At Risk For Hepatitis B?
Certain groups are at particularly high risk of HBV infection. These include:
- healthcare workers
- men who have sex with other men
- people who use schedule IV drugs
- people with multiple sex partners
- people with the chronic liver disease
- people with kidney disease
- people over the age of 60 with diabetes
- those traveling to countries are at high risk of HBV infection like other traveler’s disease
Hepatitis B Symptoms
Usually, symptoms of HBV are almost same as in other types of Hepatitis. Symptoms of acute hepatitis B may not be apparent for months. However, common symptoms include:
- dark urine
- joint and muscle pain
- loss of appetite
- abdominal discomfort
- yellowing of the whites of the eyes (sclera) and skin (jaundice)
Is Hepatitis B Contagious?
Hepatitis B is only contagious when passed from a mother to a newborn baby, through contact with infected blood and certain other bodily fluids. Although the virus can be found in saliva, it is not spread through sharing utensils or kissing. It also doesn’t spread through sneezing, coughing, or breastfeeding.
How Much Time Will Take The Symptoms Appear After Getting Infection?
Symptoms of hepatitis B may not appear for 3 months after exposure and can last for 2–12 weeks. However, you are still contagious, even without symptoms. The virus can live outside the body for up to seven days.
Hepatitis B Diagnosis Test
Your doctor may recommend you for Australia antigen test or HBsAg. It is the surface antigen of the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It indicates current hepatitis B infection. If the test is positive, signifies the infection of hepatitis B.
Is Hepatitis B Curable Or Treatable?
As according to Healthline Chronic hepatitis B is not curable, but it is treatable. The goal of therapy is to reduce the risk of complications, including premature death.
Treatment can help to prevent cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer by reducing hepatitis B viral load and the loss of HBeAg (either with or without detection of anti-HBe) while improving liver enzyme levels. Many experts anticipate that medications to cure hepatitis B virus (HBV) will be available, perhaps as early as a few years from now.
Hepatitis B In Pregnancy
HBV is transferable from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. Hence it should be stopped the proliferation & transfer of virus before delivery. In this move, your doctor may offer a tablet called tenofovir.
This tablet is taken for the last eight to 12 weeks of pregnancy (the third trimester) and is usually stopped four to 12 weeks after your baby is born. It stops the hepatitis B virus multiplying, thereby stopping the virus crossing the placenta to infect your baby. This treatment is safe for you and your baby, and you can breastfeed while taking it.
Breastfeeding does not increase the risk of mother to baby transmission of hepatitis B. The only situation where breastfeeding may carry a potential risk of transmission is when the mother has cracked or bleeding nipples. Hence you should be taken care of it.
Prevention Of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine is the best way to prevent infection. Vaccination is highly recommended. It takes three vaccines to complete the schedule of vaccines. The following groups should receive the hepatitis B vaccine:
- all infants, at the time of birth
- any children and adolescents who weren’t vaccinated at birth
- adults being treated for a sexually transmitted infection
- people living in institutional settings
- people whose work brings them into contact with blood
- HIV-positive individuals
- men who have sex with men
- people with multiple sexual partners
- injection drug users
- family members of those with hepatitis B
- individuals with chronic diseases
- people traveling to areas with high rates of hepatitis B
In other words, just about everyone should receive the hepatitis B vaccine. It’s a relatively inexpensive and very safe preventive method.
There are also other ways to reduce your risk of HBV infection. Use a condom when having anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Avoid drug use. If you’re traveling internationally, check to see if your destination has a high incidence of hepatitis B and make sure you are fully vaccinated prior to travel.
Treatments For Hepatitis B
Acute hepatitis B usually doesn’t require treatment. Most people will overcome an acute infection on their own. However, rest and hydration will help you recover.
Antiviral medications are used to treat chronic hepatitis B. These help you fight the virus. They may also reduce the risk of future liver complications. Besides this, some ayurvedic or homeopathic treatments are also available that may be considered in treating hepatitis B.
You may need a liver transplant if hepatitis B has severely damaged your liver. A liver transplant means a surgeon will remove your liver and replace it with a donor’s liver.