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Hepatitis B:

Hepatitis B is a virus that spreads through contact with body fluids and blood, so it can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. Infection is also possible through sharing of needles, razors, and toothbrushes. Babies can become infected at birth from an infected mother. Symptoms of hepatitis B infection include nausea, abdominal pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). Over time, scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and liver cancer can develop. It’s possible to go for years without symptoms of the infection. Although there is no cure, there is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B infection.

Hepatitis B is irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the liver due to infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

 

Causes:

Hepatitis B infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).You can catch hepatitis B through contact with the blood or body fluids (such as semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva) of a person who has the virus.

Exposure may occur:

►After a needle stick or sharps injury

►If any blood or other body fluid touches your skin, eyes or mouth.
 

 

People who may be at risk of hepatitis B are those who:

►Have unprotected sex with an infected partner

►Receive blood transfusions (not common in the United States)

►Have contact with blood at work (such as health care workers)

►Have been on long-term kidney dialysis

►Get a tattoo or acupuncture with unclean needles

►Share needles during drug use

►Share personal items (such as toothbrush, razor, and nail clippers) with a person who has the virus

►Were born to a hepatitis-B infected mother

 

Symptoms:

After you first become infected with the hepatitis B virus:

►You may have no symptoms

►You may feel sick for a periods of days or weeks

►You may become very ill very quickly

 

Symptoms of hepatitis B may not appear for up to 6 months after the time of infection. Early symptoms include:

►Appetite loss

►Fatigue

►Low fever

►Muscle and joint aches

►Nausea and vomiting

►Yellow skin and dark urine

Symptoms will go away in a few weeks to months if your body is able to fight off the infection. Some people never get rid of the hepatitis B virus. This is called chronic hepatitis B.People with chronic hepatitis may not have symptoms and not know they are infected. Over time, they may develop symptoms of liver damage and cirrhosis of the liver.You can spread the hepatitis B virus to other people even if you have no symptoms. 

 

Exams and Tests:

A series of blood tests called the hepatitis viral panel is done to help diagnose the condition. The following tests are done to look for liver damage if you have chronic hepatitis B:

►Albumin level

►Liver function tests

►Prothrombin time

You will also have a test to measure the level of HBV in your blood (viral load). This lets your doctors know how your treatment is working.
 

Treatment:  

Acute hepatitis, unless severe, needs no treatment. Liver and other body functions are watched using blood tests. You should get plenty of bed rest, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy foods.Some patients with chronic hepatitis may be treated with antiviral drugs. These medicines can decrease or remove hepatitis B from the blood. They also help to reduce the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer.It is not always clear which patients with chronic hepatitis B should receive drug therapy and when drug therapy should be started.

You are more likely to receive these medicines if:

►Your liver function is quickly becoming worse

►You develop symptoms of long-term liver damage

►You have high levels of the hepatitis B virus in your blood

For these medicines to work best, you need to take them as instructed by your health care provider. Ask what side effects you can expect and what to do if you have them. Not everybody who needs to take these medicines responds well.