How do you acquire Hepatitis B? (Causes of Hepatitis B )
Hepatitis B is a virus passed from person to person by
- Blood to blood contact, i.e. needles or other medical equipment which is contaminated with infected blood, infected blood being spilt onto a wound & most imp Blood transfusion.
- Having sex with an infected person .
- 10 – 70 % women who are hepatitis B positive transmit the virus to their children .
|Pregnant mother to child|
|Mother : Virus Status|
|HBsAg||HBeAg||Risk of transmission to neonate|
- A human bite from an infected person.
- Household contacts: sharing toothbrushes or razors.
- Tattooing, ear piercing.
- Hemodialysis machine.
What are the symptoms ?
Hepatitis B is a silent infection. Sometimes, in acute stage person may have the following symptoms:
- A short mild flu-like illness
- Feeling ill and tired
- Vomiting, diarrhoea and Weight loss
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes) and
- Pale stools and dark urine.
Why have a test?
- If you are a carrier you can take steps to avoid passing it on to other people.
- If you are pregnant and a carrier of Hepatitis B, your baby can be protected by a vaccination soon after birth.
- If hepatitis B is left untreated, it can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.
How is Hepatitis B diagnosed?
- Blood Test that includes :
- LFT ( Liver function test)
- Hepatitis B Surface antigen (HBsAg)
- Anti – core IgM (IgManti - HBc)
- Hepatitis B Surface Antibody (HBsAb or anti – HBs )
- Hepatitis B Envelope Antigen (HBeAg)
- Hepatitis B Envelope Antibody (Anti-HBe or HBeAb):
- HBV DNA ( qualitative + quantitative )
- Ultrasound of the liver.
- Liver Biopsy : it is removal of small piece of tissue from the liver using a special needle. The tissue is examined under a microscope to look for inflammation or liver damage.
- Fibroscan which can be done instead of liver biopsy to assess the degree of damage to liver.
Is there a vaccine?
- Yes, vaccination is the best protection against catching Hepatitis B.
- Anyone who is thought to be at high risk from catching Hepatitis B can have the vaccination.
- This might include husbands, wives, sexual partners and new born babies of people who are infected with or carry the Hepatitis B virus.
- The Hepatitis B vaccination consists of three injections and you must have all three doses for long lasting protection against the virus .(0, 1, 6 months).
Treatment to prevent Hepatitis B infection after exposure?
- If you know you have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, call your doctor immediately.
- Receiving an injection of Hepatitis B immune globulin within 24 hrs of coming in contact with the virus may help protect you from developing hepatitis B.
Treatment for Acute Hepatitis B infection ?
If you have an acute infection , meaning it is short lived & can go away on its own & you may not need any treatment.
Treatment for Chronic Hepatitis B infection ?
a) Interferon :
- Are proteins produced naturally by our bodies.
- Inteferon needs to be injected subcutaneously (literally , under the skin)
- The injection need to be given daily upto a year.
- The injection are given either in combination with a nucleoside or nucleotide analogue, or as monotherapy.
b) Nucleoside & nucleotide analogues :
- These medicines are taken orally and act by lowering the virus load in the body.
- Duration of the treatment is not finite , Patients has to take the medicines for 6 months to lifelong.
- If the patient doesn't respond to the therapy initially then there are chances that the virus has developed resistance.
Prevention: Safety tips for those who are positive
- Do not share needles used to inject drugs , hormones, steroids & vitamins
- Do not share towels, razor, nail clippers or toothbrushes
- Inform your doctor regarding this infection
- Do not donate blood or organs
- Cover any open wounds or cuts
- Use of barriers and condoms will help reduce risk of sexual transmission
- During pregnancy it is important to test for hepatitis B and C infection due to risk of transmission of infection from mother to baby
- Make sure tattoo and piercing equipment package is opened up in front of you.