Viral hepatitis B

What is viral hepatitis B?

It is a virus which affects the liver.   

Viral hepatitis B is an emerging problem in the developed countries as the world becomes smaller with increasingly affordable air travel and migration.

How is hepatitis B transmitted?

Hepatitis B is a virus that can be transmitted through blood or sexual contact. In individuals with no prior exposure to Hepatitis B, it is a preventable condition with a course of vaccination. Chronic hepatitis B, after exposure, requires lifelong monitoring and anti-viral treatment in selected cases.

The stages and treatment of hepatitis B

There are two stages of hepatitis B: acute and chronic. 

Acute hepatitis B usually lasts between one and three months. Treatment is often painkillers only. The infection will usually cure itself without little medical intervention required.

Chronic hepatitis B is rarer, and occurs when the infection remains for six months or longer. This can result in more serious health issues. These include liver inflammation, cirrhosis and in some rare cases liver cancer. Treatment for chronic hepatitis depends on the severity of the infection. 

What are common symptoms?

Hepatitis B typically does not have many symptoms during acute infection stage.

However, if the virus progresses to chronic stage, several symptoms can occur.

These include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pains

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