Hepatitis B

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The infection has two possible phases – acute and chronic.

Acute hepatitis is when the infection is newly acquired. Those infected show symptoms approximately 1 to 4 months after exposure to the virus.

For most people with acute hepatitis, symptoms subside within about a few weeks to a few months and they are cured of the disease.

However, a small number of people develop a very severe, life-threatening form of acute hepatitis called fulminant hepatitis.

Chronic hepatitis B is an infection with the hepatitis virus that lasts more than 6 months. The infection becomes chronic and can never be completely cured.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?

About half of all people infected with the hepatitis B virus develop no symptoms and will never know when they were infected.

Symptoms are more common in adults than in children. Symptoms usually develop within 1 to 4 months after exposure to the virus.

The initial symptoms are similar to those of the flu:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue, easy fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itching all over the body
  • Pain in the area of ​​the liver
  • Jaundice
  • Darkening of urine
  • Discoloration of stools, they acquire a gray or clay color.

Many of the symptoms of hepatitis B are indistinguishable from those of hepatitis A.

Fulminant hepatitis is a severe form of acute hepatitis B that can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Fortunately, fulminant hepatitis rarely develops. The symptoms of fulminant hepatitis develop very suddenly and can be:

  • Mental disturbances such as confusion, lethargy, extreme sleepiness or hallucinations.
  • Sudden collapse from fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal swelling

What causes Hepatitis B?

The hepatitis B virus is known to be blood-borne, as infection occurs from person to person through blood or blood-contaminated fluids.

It can be transmitted from an infected mother to her newborn, which occurs during or shortly after birth.

Direct contact with infected blood can occur through contaminated needles in illegal drug use, unintentional pricks with infected needles.

Semen, which contains small amounts of blood, and saliva, which contains little blood, also carry the virus.

The virus is transmitted when these fluids come into contact with broken skin or mucous membranes of an uninfected person.

Treatment of hepatitis B

Acute hepatitis B represents the initial phase of the infection. During the acute stage, the patient may face a number of unpleasant symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle pain, loss of appetite and jaundice.

However, this stage often passes on its own without the need for medical treatment.

It is important to maintain adequate fluid and nutrient intake, especially if symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea occur.

In such cases, medical monitoring and appropriate treatment are required to restore the electrolyte balance in the body.

There are other forms of hepatitis B, such as chronic hepatitis B. When the infection lasts more than six months, it is considered chronic.

In these cases, it is important for the patient to consult a doctor and undergo appropriate treatment that will help control the virus and reduce the risk of severe consequences such as cirrhosis or liver cancer .

Currently, there are a sufficient number of drugs that are used to treat chronic hepatitis B.

These drugs aim to reduce the rate at which the virus reproduces in the body, leading to control of the infection and a reduction in the risk of developing serious liver damage.

It is essential that the patient strictly follow their doctor’s instructions and undergo regular examinations to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment and avoid unwanted side effects.

In addition, it is important to take measures to prevent the spread of hepatitis B.

Vaccination is an extremely effective way to protect against hepatitis B infection.

Especially in risk groups, such as healthcare workers, newborns of infected mothers and people who have sexual contact with infected partners, the vaccine can provide strong immune protection.

How to protect yourself from hepatitis B?

Prevention of hepatitis B is essential to protect the health of individuals and society as a whole.

In addition to vaccination, following some simple but important measures can reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

  1. Practice safe sex: Prevention of sexual transmission of hepatitis B includes using latex condoms correctly and consistently with every sexual act. Although condoms do not provide absolute protection, they are an effective method of reducing the risk of infection.

  2. Vaccination for risk groups: People who are at increased risk of exposure to hepatitis B, such as healthcare workers working in healthcare or laboratory settings, people with sexual partners with chronic hepatitis B, persons at increased risk of contact with infectious bodies and fluids should be vaccinated.

  3. Avoid sharing items that may transmit the virus: Do not share personal items that may contain traces of blood, such as razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers and other body care tools.

  4. Piercing and Tattoo Responsibility: If you plan to get a piercing or tattoo, make sure the piercing and tattoo studio follows strict procedures for instrument sterilization. Never risk using unsterilized or shared tools as this can lead to hepatitis B and other infections.

  5. Maintain good hygiene: Proper hygiene, such as frequent hand washing with soap and water, can help prevent the transmission of infection.

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