Hepatitis B Infection
Hepatitis B is one of the most common infections affecting the liver. It is estimated that there are more than 50 million chronic carriers of HBV (hepatitis B virus) in Africa. The mortality risk associated with this infection is 25%, making it a huge public health concern, especially in the sub-Saharan Africa where the carrier rates range between 9% and 20%.
This marks the need to evaluate the risk of hepatitis B infection and create awareness about the treatment and prevention strategies for this disease.
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a serious infective condition that is caused due to the hepatitis B virus (HBV). In some patients, the infection due to the hepatitis B virus becomes chronic, which means it persists forlonger than 6 months.
Chronic hepatitis B is known to increase the risk of developing more serious life-threatening conditions including hepatic failure, liver cancer, and cirrhosis
What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
The common hepatitis B symptoms may include:
- Passing dark urine
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
- Weakness or fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Yellowing discoloration of the skin and the white of the eyes (jaundice)
What are the causes of hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is caused due to the infection by the hepatitis B virus. The virus can spread from an infected patient to others through blood, semen, and other body fluids. However, it does not spread by coughing and sneezing.
Having unprotected sex with a person who is infected, sharing needles, and accidental needle pricks are some common factors that can cause the spread of this infection. Pregnant women affected with hepatitis B infection can also pass the virus to the baby during childbirth.
Diagnosis of hepatitis B
The diagnosis of hepatitis B can be made based on the physical examination that reveals the signs of liver damage, including yellowing discoloration of the skin, and symptoms like recurring abdominal pain.
Some blood tests can also help to detect the presence of the hepatitis B virus in the body. A special ultrasound known as transient elastography can be performed to evaluate the extent of the liver damage.
Treatment of hepatitis B
If you are diagnosed with acute hepatitis B infection, the symptoms would resolve spontaneously within a few weeks. However, you still need to consult your doctor to understand the precautions you need to adopt with respect to your diet and lifestyle to support faster recovery and avoid compilations.
In severe cases, patients need to be prescribed antiviral drugs and may require a hospital stay to prevent complications.
Patients diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B infection need prolonged treatment often for the rest of their lives. The treatment can help to reduce the risk of more serious liver diseases like cirrhosis, and liver carcinoma. The treatment of chronic hepatitis B may include antiviral medications and interferon injections. In some cases, a liver transplant may be needed.
We have a team of skilled medical professionals who have expertise in the management of hepatitis B. You can visit us at our healthcare center or contact us to learn more about hepatitis B and the various methods for the treatment and prevention of this condition.