Causes and symptoms of Hepatitis B

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Hepatitis B is a highly contagious disease which can be acute or chronic. It spreads through contact with infected blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids. Symptoms may not occur for a few days or longer after contracting the virus. However, you are still contagious, even without symptoms.

Methods of transmission include:

Mother to baby during birth

Pricked with a contaminated needle

Close contact with a person with HBV

Oral, vaginal, and anal sex

Using an infected toothbrush or razor

Vulnerable group for Hepatitis B

Some people are most vulnerable to contacting this dreadful disease, they include: 

Those who engages in homosexuality 

Multiple sex partners

Chronic liver disease

Kidney disease

Visitor to countries with a high incidence of HBV infection

 Symptoms 

Dark urine

Joint pain

Loss of appetite

Fever

Abdominal discomfort

Weakness and fatigue

Yellowing of the whites of the eyes (sclera) and skin (jaundice)

Diagnosis

It is important for the under-listed people to undergo hepatitis screening: 

Contact with someone with hepatitis B

Visited country where hepatitis B is common

Inmate

Drug addict

Kidney dialysis

Pregnancy

Hepatitis B surface antigen test is usually used for the diagnosis.

A hepatitis B surface antigen test shows if you are contagious. A positive result means you have hepatitis B and can spread the virus. A negative result means you don’t have hepatitis B. This test doesn’t distinguish between chronic and acute infection.

Hepatitis B Core Antigen Test

The hepatitis B core antigen test shows whether you’re currently infected with HBV. Positive results usually mean you have chronic hepatitis B. It may also mean you’re recovering from acute hepatitis B.

Antibody Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test

An antibody hepatitis B surface antigen test shows whether you’re immune to HBV. A positive test means it is very unlikely you will contract hepatitis B. There are two possible reasons for a positive test. You may have been vaccinated, or you may have recovered from an acute HBV infection.

Treatments

Hepatitis B Immune Globulin: discuss with your doctor immediately if you have been in contact with someone who has hepatitis B within the last 24 hours. It may be possible to prevent infection with an injection of HBV immune globulin. This is a solution of antibodies that work against HBV.

Acute hepatitis B usually does not require treatment. Most people will overcome an acute infection on their own. However, bed rest will help you recover.

Antiviral medications can treat chronic hepatitis B. These help you fight the virus. They may also reduce the risk of future liver complications.

You may need a liver transplant if hepatitis B has severely damaged your liver. 

Potential Complications 

Liver scarring (cirrhosis)

Liver failure

Kidney cancer

Kidney failure

Liver cancer

Prevention

The hepatitis B vaccine is the best way to prevent infection. Vaccination is optional. 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

Simply put, everybody should get vaccinated.

Other ways to reduce the risk are:

Sexual partners to get tested for hepatitis B

 Use a condom when having anal, vaginal, or oral sex

 Avoid drug use

 

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