Hepatitis B – What it is and Why it Matters

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Hepatitis B is an infection caused to the liver by the hepatitis B virus which is preventable through vaccination. Hepatitis B viral infection spreads when the body fluids of an infected person enter the body of a healthy individual. There are two types of hepatitis B viral infection: short-lived (acute) and long-lasting (chronic).

Acute infection occurs at the initial stage when the virus just enters the body. It lasts for less than six months. We probably don’t need medication because our immune system clears the hepatitis B virus from the body. The only precaution we need is to maintain a healthy diet, drink lots of fluids, take a rest. This supports our body to fight against the virus.

Chronic infection occurs when acute hepatitis B viral infection lasts for more than six months. In this case, we need to consult a doctor and take drug therapy to treat the infection. Drugs slow down the ability of a virus to multiply in our system.

Why Should We Care About Hepatitis B Infection? 

Let us know why hepatitis B viral infection matters. Hepatitis B viral infection is a life-threatening liver infection leading to serious illness. It may result in liver damage, liver cancer, and even death. According to a study in 2019, the Hepatitis B virus has caused approximately 820000 deaths, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Ways through Which Hepatitis B Spreads

  • Sexual contact
  • Sharing needles or syringes
  • Being born from an infected mother
  • Sharing sharp objects with others such as razors and toothbrushes that may contain small amounts of infected blood
  • Sharing contaminated needlesticks for tattoos or piercing
  • Being bitten by an infected person

Symptoms of Hepatitis B Virus Infection 

In most cases, infection at an early stage does not show any symptoms. But, in some cases, infection last for several weeks with minor symptoms such as

  • Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Dark urine
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Achy muscles or joints
  • Mild fever
  • Stomach pain

If the symptoms last for longer than six months, it shows that the acute infection has reached the stage of chronic infection. Symptoms of chronic infections are:

  • Inflammation in liver
  • Acute liver failure
  • Cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma

If you find any symptoms of hepatitis B viral infection, contact a doctor and get Anti Hepatitis B Core Antigen (HBcAg) test done for early detection. Testing is the only way to be sure of hepatitis B status.