Hepatitis B is one type of hepatitis – a liver disease- caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
HOW IS HEPATITIS B TRANSMITTED?
Hepatitis B (HBV) is transmitted by the exchange of body fluids e.g. Blood, Semen, Breast Milk and in some circumstances saliva. People most at risk include:
- Anyone who has unprotected sexual intercourse.
- IV drug users who share needles and syringes.
- Health care workers in contact with potentially contaminated blood or body fluids.
- Babies born to mothers with the virus.
- Anyone in intimate contact with an infected person.
Many cases of acute Hepatitis B occur sporadically with no known source and studies have shown that prior unrecognised infection is common.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
If you get HBV, you may feel as if you have the flu, or you may have no symptoms at all .
- In an acute attack of hepatitis you may feel unwell,
- tired and
- lose your appetite.
Around 90% of people infected with Hepatitis B recover completely and become immune to the virus. Blood tests will show antibodies to Hepatitis B indicating you have had Hepatitis B but are now immune and cannot get Hepatitis B again. However 10% of people infected with Hepatitis B develop chronic infection, may have ongoing symptoms and they continue to be infectious for a variable length of time. Chronic infection is defined as having Hepatitis B present for 6 months or more.
People with a chronic hepatitis infection are at risk of liver damage and around 20-30% of these progress to cirrhosis.
- Don’t share drug needles with anyone.
- Always use disposable syringes.
- In the event of blood transfusion, make sure the blood being given to a patient has been properly screened for Hepatitis B.
- Wear gloves if you have to touch anyone’s blood.
- If you have several sex partners, use a condom during sex.
- Don’t use an infected person’s toothbrush, razor, or anything else that could have blood on it.
- If you get a tattoo or body piercing, make sure it is done with clean tools.
If you have hepatitis B, don’t give your blood or plasma. The person who receives it could become infected with the virus.
To check for hepatitis B, the doctor will test your blood. These tests show if you have hepatitis B and how serious it is.
The doctor may also do a liver biopsy. A biopsy is a simple test. The doctor removes a tiny piece of your liver through a needle. The doctor checks the piece of liver for signs of hepatitis B and liver damage.
HEPATITIS B TREATMENT: Specific treatment for acute hepatitis B is usually not needed since in about 95 percent of adults, the immune system controls the infection and gets rid of the virus within about six months.
In people who develop chronic hepatitis, an antiviral medication might be recommended to reduce or reverse liver damage and to prevent long-term complications of hepatitis B.
Liver transplantation is performed in people who have developed advance cirrhosis.