Hepatitis B – types, signs, symptoms, causes and other risk factors

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You should know that the hepatitis B is a serious liver infection which is caused by HBV (hepatitis B Virus). There are some people who have hepatitis B infection which is chronic and this means it lasts more than 6 months. When you have hepatitis B, then this is increasing your risk of cirrhosis (this is a condition which permanently scars of the liver), liver cancer or liver failure. In the most cases, adults who suffer from hepatitis B have recovered fully, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. It is known fact that infants and children are having increased chances of developing chronic (long – lasting) hepatitis B infection. The vaccine can prevent hepatitis B but there is not a cure for this infection. If you are infected with this condition, then talk with your doctor to take certain precautions which can help to prevent the spreading of virus to others.

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis b

The signs and symptoms of hepatitis B can range from mild to severe. They are usually appearing about 1 – 4 months after you have been infected, although someone could see them as early as 2 weeks post – infection. There are some people, usually young children, who may not have any symptoms. Here are some signs and symptoms of hepatitis B:

  • Yellowing of your skin and whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Abdominal pain

Causes: The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the cause for hepatitis B infection. This type of virus is passed from one person to another through semen, blood or other body fluids. This virus is not spreading by coughing or sneezing. Here are the most common ways that hepatitis B virus can spread:

Hepatitis B

Causes of Hepatitis B

  • Mother to child: If the pregnant woman is infected with hepatitis B virus, then it can pass the virus to her baby during childbirth. But the newborn can be vaccinated to avoid getting infected in almost all cases. You need to talk with your doctor to test you for hepatitis B if you want to become pregnant or if you are pregnant.
  • Accidental needle sticks: People who work as health care workers and people who come in contact with human blood are having increased risk of developing hepatitis B.
  • Sharing of needles: The hepatitis B virus can easily spread through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Also when you share sharing IV drug paraphernalia is increasing your risk of hepatitis B.
  • Sexual contact: If you have unprotected sex with someone who is infected, then you can get hepatitis B. The hepatitis B virus can pass to you if the person’s vaginal secretions, semen, saliva or blood enter your body.

Types of hepatitis B infection: There are two types of hepatitis B infection:

  • Acute hepatitis B infection: This is short – lived hepatitis B infection which last less than 6 months. The immune system likely can clear the acute hepatitis B from the body and the infected person should recover completely within a few months. Most people who get hepatitis B as adults have an acute hepatitis B infection but this infection can also lead to chronic infection.
  • Chronic hepatitis B infection: This type of infection lasts 6 months or longer. The hepatitis B lingers because the immune system cannot fight off the infection. This type of infection can last a lifetime and this is possibly leading to serious illnesses such as liver cancer and cirrhosis. The younger is someone when get hepatitis B (particularly newborns or children younger than 5), they have bigger risk of having chronic hepatitis B infection. When someone has a chronic infection, then it can undetected for decades until a person becomes seriously ill from liver disease.

Risk factors: This virus spreads through contact with semen, blood or other fluids from an infected person. The risk of getting hepatitis B infection is increasing if you:

  • Travel to regions with high infection rates of HBV, such as Eastern Europe, Africa, the Pacific Islands and Asia
  • Have a job that exposes you to human blood
  • Are an infant born to an infected mother
  • Live with someone who has a chronic HBV infection
  • Are a man who has sex with other men
  • Share needles during IV drug use
  • Have unprotected sex with multiple sex partners or with someone who is infected with HIV

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