What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the presence of the hepatitis B virus (known in short as HBV) in the body. The disease is very serious because the severe cases can lead to liver cancer or even death.
Symptoms of Hepatitis B
Usually, Hepatitis B causes a general state of illness which may make a person feel nauseous, vomit and lose his appetite. These symptoms are in some cases accompanied by fever, which does not, however, rise to high levels. The disease then leads to the appearance of jaundice. Jaundice is the coloration of the skin and of the white parts of the eyes into a yellowish nuance. This coloration is specific to a Hepatitis B infection.
How is Hepatitis B Transmitted?
The transmission of the virus to a healthy person is done either through contact with infected blood or through sexual contact. Blood transfusions done in an unsterilized environment, as well as unsterilized needles, can lead to an infection. But almost all hospitals take care of this aspect, sterilizing the needles used and assuring that the transfusions are completely safe. On the other hand, many people are not nearly as careful when it comes to having sex, which leads to many cases of Hepatitis B.
Testing and Diagnosis of Hepatitis B
Everyone should be aware of the fact that Hepatitis B is an extremely serious condition and that deaths caused by this disease have been reported. Therefore, if you fear that you may have contacted this disease, you must consult a doctor in order to get a diagnosis and a proper treatment. Do not postpone your visit to the doctor simply because your schedule is extremely hectic. The decision to go to a doctor at the slightest suspicion of Hepatitis B can save your life.
The doctor will perform some tests in order to see whether you test positive or negative for Hepatitis B. Firstly, your doctor will take some blood samples in order to check them for any sign of the Hepatitis B antigen. An antigen refers to a substance that enables your organism to produce antibodies for a specific type of virus. In the case of Hepatitis B, the antigen is part of the virus. Therefore, if the doctor finds this substance in your analyzed blood, it means that you are infected.
In order for the diagnosis to be complete, your doctor may want to collect a liver biopsy. This procedure involves the insertion of a needle into your skin in order to reach the liver. You may feel resentful towards this procedure, but remember that the instruments used are designed to keep your pain at a minimum level. Moreover, the discomfort felt during this test is actually an extremely small price to pay, in comparison with the benefits of an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will also look over your medical record in order to see if you have ever had a similar infection before.
Cures and Treatments for Hepatitis B
Many different medications can be used in order to treat a Hepatitis B infection. If the infection is not chronic, however, it will usually disappear by itself in a short period of time. Medication may be needed in order to treat the general state of illness associated with the disease, but not for Hepatitis B itself. Patients who have developed chronic infections may need a treatment based upon antiviral drugs which should be administrated over a period of time established by the doctor.
It is important to know that a vaccine for Hepatitis B exists and it is efficient. If you have not been vaccinated yet, you should go to your doctor and ask for Hepatitis B vaccination as soon as possible.