What is HBV?
Hepatitis is an inflammation and swelling of the liver that can cause harm or death of liver cells. The most common types of hepatitis are types A, B, and C, each caused by viruses. The effects of having Hepatitis range from mild symptoms to life-threatening illnesses. About 95% of adult patients with HBV may have it for a short time (acute HBV), get better without treatment and the virus clears from the blood. The other 5% have HBV long term (chronic HBV) and it does not clear from the blood. Untreated, chronic HBV can permanently scar the liver, leading to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and other complications.
HBV is spread through blood and other body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids. A tiny amount of infected blood is all that it takes to spread the virus.
Symptoms of HBV
Many individuals will have no symptoms of HBV, but for those that do, they vary widely and include:
- Muscular aches and pains
- Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
- Pain or heaviness in the upper right side of the abdomen
- Light-colored stools
- Darker than normal urine
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the white part of the eyes)
- Itchy skin
- Weight loss
Diagnosis is based on the patient’s history of exposure as well as blood tests. Liver enzyme tests, as well as the hepatitis B antigen test, are also used for diagnosis. Early evaluation of HBV is very important. Medical treatment in those requiring therapy can help avoid permanent liver damage and avoid other complications. In addition to simple measures to help a patient deal with symptoms, and a lifestyle that includes good nutrition plenty of rest, patients should not use alcohol.
In chronic cases, medication may be prescribed to keep the virus from damaging the liver. The earlier that treatment is started, the better the chances of preventing permanent liver damage. Medical research continues to find new and more effective treatments for HBV. If you are at high risk for HBV, you should receive a vaccine. The vaccine is also recommended for:• All infants at birth• Children and adolescents• People with chronic liver disease that is not caused by HBV