Hepatitis B is a severe liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). For certain cases, the infection with hepatitis B infection is chronic, which means it lasts longer than seven months. Chronic hepatitis B raises the risk of contracting liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis — a disease that damages the liver permanently.
Most adults with hepatitis B are completely recovered, although their symptoms are serious. Babies and kids are more likely to develop chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis B infection.
A vaccination will prevent hepatitis B, but there is no cure if you have the disease. If you are infected, taking certain precautions could help prevent the virus from spreading to others.
The hepatitis B Signs and symptoms vary from moderate to serious. They usually around about one to five months after you have been infected, but you may see them as soon as two weeks after infection. Some people, do not have any signs usually young children.
Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis B may include:
- Stomach pain
- Dark urine
- Joint aches
- Appetite loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness and exhaustion
- Yellowing skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
When to see a doctor
If you know you’ve been exposed to hepatitis B, contact your doctor immediately. Preventive treatment may reduce your risk of infection if you receive the treatment within 24 hours of exposure to the virus.
If you think you have signs or symptoms of hepatitis B, contact your doctor.
Hepatitis B infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The virus is passed from person to person through blood, semen or other body fluids. Hepatitis B infection does not spread by sneezing or coughing.
Common ways that HBV can spread are:
Sexual contact: If you have unprotected sex with someone is infected you can get hepatitis B. when the blood, saliva, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body the virus will pass on to you.
Sharing of needles: HBV spreads quickly by needles and syringes contaminated with the infected blood. Sharing IV medicines paraphernalia puts you at high risk of hepatitis B.
Accidental stuck in needle: Hepatitis B is a problem for health care staff and everyone who comes into human blood contact.
Mother to child: Pregnant women infected with HBV can pass the virus on during childbirth to their babies. However, in almost all cases the infant can be vaccinated to prevent getting infected. Talk to your doctor about being tested for hepatitis B if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant talk to your doctor about being tested for hepatitis.
Acute v/s chronic Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B infection can be either short-lived (acute) or long-lasting (chronic).
Acute hepatitis B infection lasts less than six months. Your immune system likely can clear acute hepatitis B from your body, and you should recover completely within a few months. Most people who get hepatitis B as adults have an acute infection, but it may lead to chronic infection.
Chronic hepatitis B infection lasts five months or longer. This lingers because your immune system cannot fight off the infection. Infection of Chronic hepatitis B will last a lifetime, possibly leading to severe illnesses like cirrhosis and liver cancer.
The younger you’re when you get hepatitis B — especially infant or children under 5 — the higher your risk of the infection becoming chronic. Chronic infection may go undetected for decades until a person gets seriously ill from liver disease.
Hepatitis B spreads out from an infected person by contact with blood, semen or other body fluids. Your risk of infection with hepatitis B rises if you:
- Have unprotected sex with multiple sex partners or anyone infected with HBV
- Exchange needles while using IV drug
- Are you a man who has sex with other men
- Stay with someone who has a chronic HBV infection
- Born to an infected mother
- Have a job that exposes you to human blood
- Travel to high infection rates of HBV areas with, like Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and Eastern Europe.
Having a chronic HBV infection can lead to severe complications, such as:
Scarring of the liver: The inflammation associated with a hepatitis B infection may lead to extensive liver scarring (cirrhosis), which may impair the liver’s ability to function.
Liver cancer: There is a high risk of liver cancer in people with chronic hepatitis B infection.
Liver failure: Acute liver failure is a disease in which the vital functions of the liver shut down. When that occurs, a liver transplant is necessary to sustain life.
Other conditions: Patients with chronic hepatitis B may develop kidney disease or inflammation of blood vessels.
The hepatitis B vaccine is typically given as three or four injections over six months. You cannot get hepatitis B from the vaccine.
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for:
- Unvaccinated children and adolescents at birth
- Those who work or live in a centre for people who are developmentally disabled
- People living with someone who has hepatitis B
- Health care staff, emergency workers and those people who come into contact with blood
- Anybody who has a sexually transmitted infection, like HIV
- Men who have sex with men
- Peoples those have many sexual partners
- Sexual partners of anyone who has hepatitis B
- People who inject illegal drugs or share needles and syringes
- People with chronic liver disease
- People with end-stage kidney disease
- Travelers preparing to travel to a region of the world with high hepatitis B infection rate.