A severe liver illness known as hepatitis B is brought on by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B infection can develop chronically in certain patients, meaning it lasts longer than six months. Having chronic hepatitis B raises your chance of getting liver cancer, liver failure, or cirrhosis, which causes the liver to become permanently scarred.
Even if their signs and symptoms are severe, most persons with hepatitis B fully recover. A chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis B infection is more likely to occur in infants and young children.
Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccination, but it cannot be cured if contracted. By taking specific measures, you can help stop the virus from spreading to others if you are infected.
Diagnosis for Hepatitis B
During the examination, your doctor will search for any indications of liver impairment, such as skin discoloration or abdominal discomfort. The following tests can be used to identify hepatitis B or its complications:
- Blood tests can find the hepatitis B virus in your system and inform your doctor if it is acute or chronic. You can also find out if you are immune to the illness with a straightforward blood test.
- A liver ultrasound - The degree of liver damage may be determined by transient elastography, a specialized ultrasound.
- A liver biopsy - To check for liver disease, your doctor may take a tiny sample of your liver for examination (a liver biopsy). Your physician uses a tiny needle to enter your liver via your skin and collect a sample of tissue for testing during this procedure.
Can Hepatitis B be prevented?
Hepatitis B has no known treatment, however it is avoidable and may be avoided by following a few safety steps. Sexual contact, the sharing of needles, and unintentional needlesticks are common ways that hepatitis B is spread.
By doing the following things, you can reduce your chance of getting hepatitis B or passing it on to others:
Sharing personal things that might contain blood, such as razors or toothbrushes, not sharing needles or syringes, and using condoms or other barrier devices during sexual activity
Treatment options for Hepatitis B
It's crucial to understand that not every person with a chronic hepatitis B infection requires treatment. When first diagnosed, this might be challenging to understand because taking medication to get rid of the virus feels like the first step toward recovery. However, it has been discovered that individuals who exhibit symptoms of active liver disease respond well to current therapies (e.g. through a physical exam, blood tests and imaging studies such as an ultrasound).
Therefore, discuss your candidacy for any of the authorized medications with your healthcare professional. Inquire with your doctor whether they are involved in any clinical studies that are evaluating any novel hepatitis B medications.
Some of the hepatitis B therapies now available:
Immune modulator drugs - Interferon-like medications known as immune modulators are used to strengthen the immune system and aid in the eradication of the hepatitis B virus. They are administered as a shot over the course of six months to a year, just like insulin is administered to persons with diabetes.
Antiviral medications - These medicines prevent or slow down the hepatitis B virus's ability to reproduce, which lessens liver inflammation and damage. These are normally taken as a pill once a day for at least a year.
Liver transplant - A liver transplant may be a possibility if your liver has sustained significant damage. The surgeon removes your diseased liver during a liver transplant and replaces it with a healthy liver. Although a tiny percentage of transplanted livers originate from living donors who donate a portion of their livers, most transplanted livers come from deceased donors.
Vaccination for Hepatitis B
The hepatitis B vaccination, if you haven't previously had it, is your best option if you're at risk of getting exposed to the virus. All newborns should receive the hepatitis B vaccination, which is a secure and reliable shot, along with kids up to age 18. Adults with diabetes and those who are at high risk for infection because of their occupations, lifestyles, places of residence, or countries of birth are also advised to get the hepatitis B vaccination.
Hepatitis B has no known cure, but there are a number of therapies that can help you manage your symptoms and reduce your chance of developing long-term health issues like cirrhosis. It is advisable to schedule a blood test if you have hepatitis B every six months or so to check on your viral load and liver function.