What Is Hepatitis B?
is liver inflammation caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV is one of five
types of hepatitis virus. The others are hepatitis A, C, D, and E.
The Centers for Disease Control and
state that 2,000 to 4,000 people in the United States die each year from
complications caused by hepatitis B.
infection can be acute or chronic.
Acute hepatitis B causes
symptoms to appear quickly in adults. Children rarely develop acute hepatitis B.
Any infections in children are far more likely to be chronic.
Chronic hepatitis B develops
slowly. Symptoms may not be noticeable unless complications develop. According
to the CDC, up to 1.4 million people in the
United States have chronic hepatitis B.
Is Hepatitis B Contagious?
is highly contagious. 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
methods of transmission include:
from mother to baby during birth
pricked with a contaminated needle
contact with a person with HBV
vaginal, and anal sex
an infected toothbrush or razor
Who Is at Risk for Hepatitis
groups are at particularly high risk of HBV infection. These include:
who have sex with other men
with multiple sex partners
with chronic liver disease
with kidney disease
over the age of 60 with diabetes
traveling to countries with a high incidence of HBV infection
What Are the Symptoms of
Symptoms of hepatitis
B may not be apparent for months or years. However, common symptoms include:
of the whites of the eyes (sclera) and skin (jaundice)
of hepatitis B need immediate treatment. Let your doctor know immediately if
you have been exposed to hepatitis B. You may be able to prevent infection.
How Is Hepatitis B
usually diagnose hepatitis B with routine or requested screening tests. Some reasons
a person may need screening are if they:
come in contact with someone with hepatitis B
traveled to a country where hepatitis B is common
been in jail
men who have sex with men
for hepatitis B, your doctor will perform a series of blood tests.
Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test
B surface antigen test shows if you’re 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
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
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.
Liver Function Tests
symptoms can mimic the symptoms of other conditions, including liver diseases.
function tests check your blood for heightened enzymes from your liver. The
results of these tests can reveal whether your liver is under stress. It can
also identify signs of disease.
tests are positive, you might require testing for hepatitis B. Hepatitis
viruses are a major cause of liver damage.
What Are the Treatments for
Hepatitis B Immune Globulin
Talk to 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
Treatment Options for Hepatitis B
hepatitis B usually doesn’t require treatment. Most people will overcome an
acute infection on their own. However, bed rest will help you recover.
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. A liver
transplant means a surgeon will remove your liver and replace it with a donor
liver. Most donor livers come from deceased donors.
What Are the Potential
Complications of Hepatitis B?
You may have
complications if you don’t receive early treatment for hepatitis B. These
possible complication is hepatitis D infection. Only people with hepatitis B
can contract hepatitis D. A combined infection can cause serious liver
How Can I Prevent Hepatitis
hepatitis B vaccine is the best way to prevent infection. Vaccination is
optional. The following groups should receive the hepatitis B vaccine:
infants, at the time of birth
children and adolescents who weren’t vaccinated at birth
being treated for a sexually transmitted infection
living in institutional settings
whose work brings them into contact with blood
who have sex with men
with multiple sexual partners
members of those with hepatitis B
with chronic diseases
traveling to areas with high rates of hepatitis B
words, just about everyone should receive the hepatitis B vaccine. It’s a
relatively inexpensive and very safe vaccine.
also other ways to reduce your risk of HBV infection. You should always ask sexual
partners to get tested for hepatitis B. Use a condom when having anal, vaginal,
or oral sex. Avoid drug use. If you’re traveling internationally, check to see
if your destination has a high incidence of hepatitis B.