Department by: Internal Medicine Last Read: 4 min ago As the temperatures rise during the hot summer months, it's important ...
Hepatitis B: Overview, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Hepatitis B is a severe medical condition wherein your liver gets infected by Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). When Hepatitis B lasts for more than 6 months, the condition is considered to be chronic. The chronic stage of Hepatitis B tends to increase the risk of liver failure, liver cancer, or even cirrhosis (a condition where permanent scars appear on your liver).
Chronic Hepatitis B with severe symptoms usually affects infants & children more than adults. Adults tend to recover quickly from chronic Hepatitis B whereas; infants & children develop long-lasting chronic infections.
In this article, we will share detailed information on Hepatitis B symptoms, causes, and treatment.
Hepatitis B Symptoms:
The Hepatitis B symptoms usually range from very mild to extremely severe symptoms which include:
- Dark urine
- Pain in abdomen
- Pain in joints
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue & weakness
- Your skin & whites of the eyes turn yellow (signs of jaundice)
These symptoms can be seen up to 1-4 months after you have been infected, however, they might even appear at the earliest i.e. within two weeks post-infection. Few people, usually young children might not reflect any symptoms.
Hepatitis B Causes:
As mentioned above, Hepatitis B is caused by HBV which gets easily passed on from one person to another via blood, semen, or other body fluids.
Note: It does not spread by coughing or sneezing.
The most common Hepatitis B causes are:
- Needles: Needles & syringes contaminated with HBV-infected blood aid in the easy spread of Hepatitis B. It is a great risk & concern for health care workers as they frequently get in contact with human blood.
- Sexual Contact: Having unprotected sex can cause Hepatitis B via blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretion that enters your body.
- From Mother to Child: A pregnant woman who is infected with HBV can pass this virus to their newborn during childbirth. The newborn can be vaccinated to avoid getting infected by the virus.
Hepatitis B Treatment:
The treatment includes giving Hepatitis B vaccine; usually 3-4 injections over 4 to 6 months. This vaccine is highly recommended for:
- Children who are not vaccinated with Hepatitis B vaccine during birth
- People who work or reside at the center of the people who are developmentally disabled
- People with sexually transmitted infections, this includes of HIV as well
- People who live together with someone infected with Hepatitis B
- Health care workers who constantly are in contact with blood
- People with many sexual partners
- A person whose sexual partner is infected with Hepatitis B
- A person suffering from chronic liver disease and last-stage kidney disease
- Someone who injects illegal drugs shared needles & syringes in their body
- Person (traveler) who plans to travel to a part of the world with the highest rate of Hepatitis B infection
Precautions: Consult your doctor in following cases; A. If you are pregnant and notice signs of Hepatitis B. B. You are infected with Hepatitis B and want to conceive. Make sure that your newborn gets the Hepatitis vaccine. To take preventive measures:
- Check for the HBV status of your sexual partner
- Have safe sex
- Stop consuming illegal drugs
- Be sure that the needles used are sterilized while body piercing & getting a tattoo done
- Make sure to have Hepatitis B vaccine before you travel to any region with a higher rate of Hepatitis B infection