What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis B Virus. This infection leads to the inflammation of the liver. The illness may be short-lived (acute) lasting up to 6 months, or it may persist for a longer period of time (more than 6 months), in which case it is termed chronic.

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B?

Those who are symptomatic may experience symptoms such as

  • Dark-tinged urine
  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal pain

People with these symptoms should seek medical help immediately!

Hepatitis B has no known treatment or cure. The good news is that it typically goes away on its own in 4 to 8 weeks. Adults who contract hepatitis B often fully recover in more than 9 out of 10 cases. However, roughly 1 in 20 persons who have hepatitis B go on to develop a chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis B infection, making them “carriers.”

FAQs on Hepatitis B

HBV is spread by contact with infected blood or body fluid.

This can occur a variety of ways, which includes but are not limited to

  • Sharing needles with a HBV positive individual e.g. during intra-venous drug us
  • Needle stick injuries
  • Sexual contact
  • Contact with blood or wounds of an infected individual
  • From mother-to-child during the birthing process

Diagnosis of HBV is done by a medical professional who will use a combination of clinical presentation and blood tests sent to the lab. Laboratories will either check for immune markers of HBV (antibodies / antigens) or viral nucleic acid.

Infections caused by HBV are potentially self-limiting (acute), if this is the case no specific treatment regimen may be required, however, this must be determined by a doctor. If this is the case, lifestyle changes including increased water intake, rest and nutritionally sound meals may be recommended by your doctor.

If infection with HBV proves to be chronic, your clinician may determine a more stringent treatment regimen dependent on your specific case – this may include antiviral medication and monitoring of disease progression. Tests which assist in monitoring disease progression include liver scans, lab tests like liver function panels and Hepatitis B Viral Load testing.