What is Hepatitis B?
It is an infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). There are five types of viral hepatitis and HBV is one of them. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are the most common of them and if not treated can get chronic. HBV infection can also be acute and the symptoms appear and spread very rapidly in adults. But if the HBV infection is chronic, it develops very slowly and the symptoms are hardly noticeable.
Hepatitis B gets spread very easily when a person comes in contact with the open wound, blood and body fluid of someone who already has the disease. Hepatitis B is not very serious if you contract it as an adult because your immune system will fight the disease off and you are immune for the rest of your life. But it likely stays with you for a lifetime if you get it at birth.
Can Hepatitis B be transmitted from person to person?
Hepatitis B is a highly contagious disease and can be easily transmitted from person to person. It is spread when you come in contact with body fluids and blood of the infected person. Here are some possible methods of transmission:
- Transfer from mother to baby during birth
- Coming in direct contact with the infected blood
- Getting needle tested with a contaminated one
- Intimate/Sexual contact with HBV infected person
Who are at a risk of Hepatitis B?
Anyone can be at a risk of Hepatitis B, but there are certain groups of people who are at a particularly high risk.
- If you have multiple sex partners
- If you are in a homosexual relationship
- If you are a healthcare worker
- If you are on IV drugs
- If you have chronic liver/kidney disease
- If you are a diabetic and above 60 years
- If you are HIV positive
- If you are traveling to a country with a high incidence of HBV infection.
Symptoms of Hepatitis B
The symptoms of Hepatitis B do not appear immediately and continues for a good 3 weeks but nevertheless, you are still contagious. Some common warning signs and symptoms when first infected with HBV are:
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Dark-colored urine
- Light-colored poop
Take immediate action and visit a doctor to get tested for Hepatitis B. Early treatment might prevent the infection.
Treatment of Hepatitis B
Doctors diagnose Hepatitis B through blood tests, liver ultrasounds, and liver biopsy. If you are diagnosed positive, you are usually treated with antiviral medications, injections or a liver transplant.
It is possible to get treated for the disease with early diagnosis.