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Hepatitis B Virus & its Treatment

Hepatitis B Virus & its Treatment

Understanding Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus and it occurs when the liver gets inflamed. It can be an acute infection when a patient remains sick for a few weeks only. On the other end, hepatitis B infection can also progress into chronic liver disease, leading to cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and liver failure.

Liver failure is considered one of the leading causes of death all over the world. Such a chronic infection is the most common cause of primary liver carcinoma. It is a potentially life-threatening infection and needs immediate medical intervention.

Acute Hepatitis B

Acute hepatitis B is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to HBV. Some people with acute hepatitis B show no symptoms at all or mild illness only. Some people suffering from hepatitis B virus can suffer from severe illness that requires immediate medical assistance and, in most cases, hospitalization as well.

Chronic Hepatitis B

Some people, especially those who get infected in adulthood, can often fight the hepatitis B infection on their own, without being medically treated. Whereas in some other cases, an acute hepatitis B infection often leads to a life-long infection known as chronic hepatitis B infection. As time passes, such kind of chronic infections can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death.

Who is most likely to get Chronic Hepatitis B?

Whether hepatitis B infection becomes chronic or not, largely relies on age. The younger a person is when infected with the hepatitis B virus, the greater the chance of developing chronic infection will be. About 9 in 10 infants who get infected with hepatitis B virus go on to develop life-long and chronic liver infections later in life.

As the child ages, the risk of hepatitis B virus converting into chronic infection lessens. According to research studies, about 1 in 3 children, who get infected before age 6 will develop chronic hepatitis B at some point later in their lives. On the other end, almost all children 6 years old or older, and adults who get infected with the hepatitis B virus are likely to recover completely and not develop chronic hepatitis infection.

Hepatitis Transmission

Hepatitis virus spreads from mother to child. The blood of an infected person is also another major source of transmission of this infection. Sharing needles, used syringes, tattooing or piercing, and dental procedures performed with contaminated equipment are high-risk factors for the transmission of hepatitis B virus.

Besides, any medical or surgical equipment contaminated with infected blood can transmit the infection quite easily. Sharing of syringes by drug abusers and using infected blades at barber shops are also high-risk potential sources of HBV infection.

It is pertinent to mention here that the hepatitis B virus can survive outside the human body for at least seven days, but still, it can be a source of infection if it enters the body of an unvaccinated person. The incubation period of the virus is 30 to 180 days.

Symptoms of Hepatitis B virus

Most people, at an early stage of HBV infection, don’t feel any symptoms. But soon after the incubation period, acute hepatitis starts developing and the patient begins to experience extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, jaundice, dark urine, and abdominal pain.

Here point to ponder is that HBV can cause acute liver failure in some people and may progress into chronic hepatitis in others. If left untreated, such conditions gradually progress into liver cirrhosis and liver failure. The encouraging fact is that most of the adults recover from acute hepatitis B and only 5% of infections are likely to progress into chronic hepatitis conditions.

However, that’s not the case with children below 6 years of age. Nearly 50% of them will suffer from chronic hepatitis after acquiring the infection until 6 years of age. Patients infected with HIV are often found to be co-infected with the hepatitis B virus.

Treatment of Hepatitis B Virus

Hepatitis B is diagnosed with blood screening. As of now, there is no specific treatment for hepatitis B virus. The patient’s condition can only be monitored in addition to advising dietary supplements and enough fluid intake. The unnecessary use of medication is also strictly discouraged.

Chronic hepatitis B virus is usually treated with medicine including some antiviral drugs. Only a few patients are required to go through the medication. The timely diagnosis alongside appropriate treatment of the hepatitis B virus helps prevent liver cirrhosis and reduces the chances of liver failure and liver cancer.

It is to be noted here that the treatment of hepatitis B doesn’t eradicate the virus, but it only suppresses it. That’s the reason why hepatitis B patients have to take life-long medications. Getting yourself vaccinated against hepatitis B virus is the best and most appropriate way to prevent the life-threatening virus.

Recovery Plan for Hepatitis B Patients

If a patient is diagnosed with hepatitis B virus, he should continue taking prescribed medication alongside taking necessary precautions, as long as the medication doesn’t show any potential side effects. If all of his screening and diagnostic reports are encouraging and the patient is doing well, he should continue the treatment plan advised by his healthcare practitioner.

Patients often complain about being diabetic. Remember, diabetes has nothing to do with Hepatitis B infection and its medication. The patient should only keep a regular check on his sugar levels after every 6 months. He only needs to consume an appropriate and healthy diet after consulting a diabetologist.

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