What is hepatitis b?


Know the basics

What is hepatitis b?

Hepatitis B is an infectious liver disease. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). This is one type of many virus that affect liver. Hepatitis B has 2 form:

  • Acute hepatitis B virus infectionis a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to HBV. Acute infection can–but does not always–lead to chronic infection.
  • Chronic hepatitis B virus infectionis a long-term illness that occurs when the virus remains in a person’s body.

How common is hepatitis b?

Acute illness, with symptoms, is more common among adults. Chronic infection is more common among infants and children than among adults.

According WHO statistics, there are 2 billions people have hepatitis B in the world. In particular, 250 million people chronically infected with HBV in Asia – Pacific.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of hepatitis b?

Hepatitis B is called a “silent killer” because many people have no symptoms, so the disease often progresses unnoticed for years.

First symptoms may be include:

  • Rash;
  • Joint pains;
  • Fatigue;
  • Jaundice.

Other next symptoms include:

  • Pale or clay-colored stools;
  • Dark urine;
  • Itching;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Low-grade fever;
  • Pain in the abdomen;
  • Spiderlike blood vessels, called spider angiomas, that develop on the skin.

Severe disease may lead to cirrhosis (liver scarring), fluid in the abdomen (ascitites), and liver failure.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Besides, if you know you’ve been exposed to hepatitis B, contact your doctor immediately. A preventive treatment may reduce your risk of infection if you receive the treatment within 24 hours of exposure to the virus.

Know the causes

What causes hepatitis b?

The cause is the hepatitis B virus. This virus is passed to other by sexual contact with infected people and using nonsterile needles. Infected blood and other body fluids (e.g., semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk, tears, saliva and fluid in open sores) can spread the virus. Infected mothers can give it to babies.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for hepatitis b?

Hepatitis B spreads through contact with blood, semen or other body fluids from an infected person. Your risk of hepatitis B infection increases if you:

  • Have unprotected sex with multiple sex partners or with someone who’s infected with HBV;
  • Share needles during intravenous (IV) drug use;
  • Are a man who has sex with other men;
  • Live with someone who has a chronic HBV infection;
  • Are an infant born to an infected mother;
  • Have a job that exposes you to human blood;
  • Travel to regions with high infection rates of HBV, such as Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Not having risk factors does not mean you can not get hamstring strains. These factors are for reference only. You should consult your doctor for more details.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is hepatitis b diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you have hepatitis B, he or she will examine you and likely order blood tests. Blood tests can determine if you have the virus in your system and whether it’s acute or chronic. Your doctor might also want to remove a small sample of your liver for testing (liver biopsy) to determine whether you have liver damage. During this test, your doctor inserts a thin needle through your skin and into your liver and removes a tissue sample for laboratory analysis.

How is hepatitis b treated?

If you know you’ve been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, call your doctor immediately. If you haven’t been vaccinated or aren’t sure whether you’ve been vaccinated or whether you responded to the vaccination, receiving an injection of hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours of coming in contact with the virus may help protect you from developing hepatitis B. If you havent been vaccinated, at that time, you may have acute or chronic hepatitis B.

Treatments depend on what form of hepatitis B you have

 Acute hepatitis B infection

If your doctor determines your hepatitis B infection is acute — meaning it is short-lived and will go away on its own — you may not need treatment. Instead, your doctor might recommend rest, avoid intimate contact and  adequate nutrition and fluids while your body fights the infection.

Besides, people who come in contact with you should be given immune globulin plus hepatitis B vaccine within 2 weeks of eposure.

Chronic hepatitis B infection

If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B infection, you may have treatment to reduce the risk of liver disease and prevent you from passing the infection to others. Treatments include:

  • Antiviral medications. Several antiviral medications — including lamivudine (Epivir), adefovir (Hepsera), telbivudine (Tyzeka) and entecavir (Baraclude) — can help fight the virus and slow its ability to damage your liver. Talk to your doctor about which medication might be right for you.
  • Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A). This synthetic version of a substance produced by the body to fight infection is used mainly for young people with hepatitis B who don’t want to undergo long-term treatment or who might want to get pregnant within a few years. It’s given by injection. Side effects may include depression, difficulty breathing and chest tightness.
  • Liver transplant. If your liver has been severely damaged, a liver transplant may be an option. During a liver transplant, the surgeon removes your damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy liver. Most transplanted livers come from deceased donors, though a small number come from living donors who donate a portion of their livers.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hepatitis b?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with hepatitis B:

  • Get plenty of rest and eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Use condoms when having sex.
  • Avoid exposing others to your blood and other body fluids.
  • Call your doctor if symptoms don’t go away in 4 or 6 weeks or new symptoms develop.
  • Ask your doctor about vaccines for family members and others close to you.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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