What Are The Types Of Hepatitis B
There are two types of hepatitis B infection: acute and chronic.
An acute infection happens at the beginning, when you first get infected with hepatitis B. Many people are able to clear it from their bodies and recover. In fact, this is true of about 4 in 5 adults who are infected.
If you are not able to clear the infection within six months or longer, you have chronic hepatitis B. It is chronic hepatitis B that leads to inflammation and the serious, and possibly fatal, illnesses of cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Treatment can slow disease progress, reduce the chance of liver cancer and increase your chances of surviving.
What Is Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
How Do You Treat Hepatitis C
In the past, there was no medication to treat hepatitis C. However, over the last few years, medications have been approved to cure the disease.
If you have symptoms, or youre found to have an asymptomatic chronic infection, your doctor will likely refer you to a liver specialist who can help determine the best course of treatment.
Your doctor can also monitor your symptoms and perform blood tests to confirm whether certain treatments are working for you.
Its difficult to tell if you have hepatitis C based on symptoms.
Be sure to practice preventive measures to protect yourself from developing the condition:
- Practice safe sex to prevent getting sexually transmitted diseases.
- If you get tattoos or piercings, make sure that the employees use sterile needles.
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Are There Home Remedies For Hepatitis B
The goals of self-care are to relieve symptoms and prevent worsening of the disease.
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Broth, sports drinks, gelatin, frozen ice treats , and fruit juices are preferred because they also provide calories.
- Ask your physician before taking any medications, even those that are over-the-counter. Some medications depend on the liver, and liver damage may impair the body’s ability to metabolize these drugs. If you are on prescription medications, check with your physician to see if the doses should be adjusted or if the medication should be temporarily discontinued.
- Avoid drinking alcohol until your healthcare practitioner allows it. Individuals with chronic HBV should avoid alcohol for the rest of their lives.
- Try to eat a diet that provides adequate nutrition. Take it easy. It may take some time for your energy level to return to normal.
- Avoid prolonged, vigorous exercise until symptoms start to improve.
- Avoid any activity that may spread the infection to other people .
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Acute Hepatitis B Virus Infection
The incubation period for hepatitis B virus is 30-180 days . Patients then enter the prodromal or preicteric phase, characterized by the gradual onset of anorexia, malaise, and fatigue. During this phase, as the liver becomes inflamed, the liver enzymes start to elevate, and the patient may experience right upper quadrant pain. About 15% of patients develop an illness resembling serum sickness. These patients may experience fever, arthritis, arthralgias, or an urticarial rash.
As the disease progresses to the icteric phase, the liver becomes tender, and jaundice develops. Patients may note that their urine darkens and their stools lighten in color. Other symptoms in this stage include nausea, vomiting, and pruritus.
From this point on, the clinical course may be highly variable. Whereas some patients experience fairly rapid improvements in their symptoms, others go on to experience prolonged disease with slow resolution. Still others may have symptoms that periodically improve, only to worsen later . Finally, there is an unfortunate subset of patients in whom the disease rapidly progresses to FHF this may occur over days to weeks.
Wasley A, Grytdal S, Gallagher K, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Surveillance for acute viral hepatitis–United States, 2006. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2008 Mar 21. 57 :1-24. .
Previsani N, Lavanchy D, World Health Organization. Hepatitis B . 2002. .
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Chronic Hepatitis B Complications
Chronic hepatitis B can lead to
- cirrhosis, a condition in which scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents your liver from working normally. Scar tissue also partly blocks the flow of blood through the liver. As cirrhosis gets worse, the liver begins to fail.
- liver failure, in which your liver is badly damaged and stops working. Liver failure is also called end-stage liver disease. People with liver failure may require a liver transplant.
- liver cancer. Your doctor may suggest blood tests and an ultrasound or another type of imaging test to check for liver cancer. Finding cancer at an early stage improves the chance of curing the cancer.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
You may have hepatitis C and not have any signs or symptoms.
For those who do have symptoms, you may experience:
- nausea and vomiting
Hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, as it causes swelling . This swelling causes scarring of the liver, which affects how the organ functions.
Liver scarring can worsen . This increases your chances of getting liver cancer.
How quickly your liver undergoes damage will depend on if you:
- use alcohol
- get hepatitis C after the age of 40
- have a human immunodeficiency virus co-infection
About 60% to 70% of people with hepatitis C do not develop symptoms until their liver has already been damaged.
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The Symptoms Are General
Since the liver has a part in so many essential functions, many symptoms are constitutional, meaning they affect the entire body. For example, a sore leg will usually just hurt in and around the leg. With hepatitis, you may feel pain around the liver, but you will also probably have chills and aches in your joints and muscles.
If I Have Hepatitis B And Feel Healthy Do I Need To Keep Going To My Doctor
Chronic hepatitis B is a silent disease because often no symptoms appear until your liver is severely damaged. Although many people with chronic hepatitis B have an inactive disease and will remain healthy, about one in four will have an active disease that may lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.
Because hepatitis B has no symptoms until your liver is badly damaged, a blood test is the only way for your doctor to find out if your hepatitis B is active or inactive, and to offer treatment, if needed. To help your doctor monitor how your disease behaves over time, you will need lifelong repeat blood tests every six to 12 months. Some tests, such as HBV DNA may need to be done more frequently . No treatment is required while the virus is inactive, but you should continue to get regular blood tests from your doctor to monitor your liver disease.
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How Do Doctors Treat Hepatitis B
Doctors typically dont treat hepatitis B unless it becomes chronic. Doctors may treat chronic hepatitis B with antiviral medicines that attack the virus.
Not everyone with chronic hepatitis B needs treatment. If blood tests show that hepatitis B could be damaging a persons liver, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medicines to lower the chances of liver damage and complications.
Medicines that you take by mouth include
A medicine that doctors can give as a shot is peginterferon alfa-2a .
The length of treatment varies. Hepatitis B medicines may cause side effects. Talk with your doctor about the side effects of treatment. Tell your doctor before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
Who Is More Likely To Get Hepatitis B
People are more likely to get hepatitis B if they are born to a mother who has hepatitis B. The virus can spread from mother to child during birth. For this reason, people are more likely to have hepatitis B if they
- were born in a part of the world where 2 percent or more of the population has hepatitis B infection
- were born in the United States, didnt receive the hepatitis B vaccine as an infant, and have parents who were born in an area where 8 percent or more of the population had hepatitis B infection
People are also more likely to have hepatitis B if they
- are infected with HIV, because hepatitis B and HIV spread in similar ways
- have lived with or had sex with someone who has hepatitis B
- have had more than one sex partner in the last 6 months or have a history of sexually transmitted disease
- are men who have sex with men
- are injection drug users
- work in a profession, such as health care, in which they have contact with blood, needles, or body fluids at work
- live or work in a care facility for people with developmental disabilities
- have been on kidney dialysis
- live or work in a prison
- had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before the mid-1980s
In the United States, hepatitis B spreads among adults mainly through contact with infected blood through the skin, such as during injection drug use, and through sexual contact.12
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How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed And Assessed
A simple blood test can detect if you are infected with the hepatitis B germ . This test detects a protein on the surface of the virus called hepatitis B surface antigen . If you are found to be infected then other tests may be advised to check on the severity of infection, liver inflammation and damage to the liver.
- A blood test can detect various parts of the virus. This can assess how active the virus is .
- Blood tests called liver function tests. These measure the activity of chemicals and other substances made in the liver. This gives a general guide as to whether the liver is inflamed, and how well it is working.
- A small sample of the liver may be taken to look at under the microscope. This can show the extent of any inflammation and scarring of the liver .
- A blood test can also be performed to show if you have immunity to hepatitis B.
- Other tests may be done if cirrhosis or other complications develop.
- There are other specialised blood tests being developed which assess the development and severity of cirrhosis.
Immunisation For Hepatitis B
Immunisation is the best protection against hepatitis B infection. A course of vaccination is recommended for all babies and people in high-risk groups.
Immunisation can be with a vaccine against hepatitis B alone or with a combination vaccine. To be immunised, contact your doctor or local council.
Protection against hepatitis B is available free of charge under the National Immunisation Program Schedule. In Victoria, immunisation against hepatitis B is free for:
- Babies at birth immunisation against hepatitis B alone as soon as possible after birth.
- Babies at 2, 4 and 6 months combination immunisation in the form of a diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine .
- Premature babies at 12 months premature babies born under 32 weeks gestation or under 2,000g birth weight receive a single booster dose.
- Children up to and including 9 years of age.
- People aged less than 20 years having a catch-up immunisation.
- Refugees and humanitarian entrants aged 20 years and above.
In Victoria, free hepatitis B vaccine is provided for people who are at increased risk of infection, including:
Immunisation is also recommended, but not necessarily free, for people who are at increased risk of infection, including:
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Causes Of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood that contains the hepatitis B virus. If infected blood or body fluids enter another persons bloodstream, that person may become infected.
The time from exposure to the hepatitis B virus to the appearance of the illness is 45 to 180 days.
Risky activities that can cause infection include:
- Sharing unsterile or unclean equipment for injecting drugs.
- Piercing the skin with equipment that is not properly cleaned, disinfected and sterilised.
- Sharing razor blades or toothbrushes.
- Coming into contact with infected blood through open cuts or the mucous membranes of another person.
- Having unprotected sex , especially if there is blood present.
Mothers who have hepatitis B can pass the virus to their babies or children at the time of birth or after birth. If the newborn baby is quickly immunised with 2 vaccines, they can be protected from getting hepatitis B.
All blood and blood products produced for medical purposes in Australia are carefully screened for hepatitis B and other blood-borne viruses. The risk of getting infected with hepatitis B from a blood transfusion is extremely low .
Symptoms Of Hepatitis B
Some people who are infected with the hepatitis B virus have mild, flu-like symptoms and some do not become sick at all. Children who are infected are less likely to have an illness or get sick after getting hepatitis B than adults.
In more severe cases, hepatitis B can cause:
- Loss of appetite.
- Pain in the joints.
- Jaundice .
Normally, these health problems disappear in a few weeks, but even when the person feels much better, they may still be infectious.
Most adults who become infected with the hepatitis B virus recover completely and do not become infected again. A few people become very ill in the time just after infection and need to go to hospital some may even die.
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What Is The Follow
If an individual has acute hepatitis B, a health care practitioner will draw blood and examine the person periodically to see if the infection is resolving. If the person develops chronic hepatitis B, they will need periodic examinations and blood tests on an ongoing basis. If these tests indicate that the virus is actively damaging the liver, the healthcare practitioner may suggest a liver biopsy or begin antiviral therapy. The individual will also be given a vaccine against hepatitis A, which is an unrelated virus that may cause severe liver disease in people who already carry hepatitis B.
Chronic hepatitis B is associated with hepatocellular carcinoma. Fortunately, this is rare cancer. A blood test can be used to detect a marker for this cancer, or cancer can be detected by abdominal ultrasound. Persons with chronic hepatitis B are usually screened periodically for hepatocellular carcinoma, although it is not clear if this screening improves survival.
Southern Cross Medical Library
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.
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How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed
Since it can be difficult to tell, based on symptoms, whether you have contracted hepatitis C, you can be tested for it. A simple blood test can confirm whether you have the condition.
You can book an appointment with a primary care doctor in your area using our Healthline FindCare tool.
Acute Hepatitis B Symptoms
There are three phases of acute hepatitis B infection, and symptoms may differ depending on the stage. Early in the disease, called the prodromal phase, symptoms may include:
- Dark urine and light stool color
During the icteric phase:
- Jaundice develops
- Anorexia, nausea and vomiting may worsen
- Irritated skin lesions may develop
- Other symptoms may subside
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How Is Hepatitis B Prevented
Testing & Vaccination
- The hepatitis B vaccine offers excellent protection against HBV. The vaccine is safe and highly effective. Vaccination consists of 3 doses of vaccine over the course of 6 months. Protection lasts for 20 years to life.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children should receive hepatitis B vaccine starting at birth. .
- The CDC recommends hepatitis B vaccine for persons traveling to countries where HBV is common .
- If you have one or more risk factors for hepatitis B infection, you should get a simple HBV blood test. The blood test will determine whether you are:
- immune to hepatitis B or
- susceptible to hepatitis B and need vaccination or
- infected with hepatitis B and need further evaluation by a physician
- California law requires testing of all pregnant women for hepatitis B infection
- If the mother is HBV-infected, she will pass the infection to the baby during the birth process, unless the baby gets immunized within hours of birth
- Giving the infant HBIG and HBV vaccine right away will reliably prevent infection of the infant
- Other family members should best tested for hepatitis B too, and given vaccine if they are not already infected or immune
After Exposure to Hepatitis B