Hepatitis B: Symptoms, Causes, and Risk Factors
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B refers to a type of infection involving the liver. The leading cause of this infection or disease is what we call HBV or hepatitis B virus. It happens to children, adults, and elderly people. This means that the disease can take place in different age groups. But how does this disease occur? Is it acute or chronic? What are the symptoms that make it a severe disease for someone to have?
This disease can be both acute and chronic. The severity of the condition can lead to more health complications, which is why immediate treatment is needed. There are sets of medications that an individual can observe, following a prescription from his/her healthcare professional. These medications are highly capable of alleviating hostile symptoms of the said disease and reduce the diseases’ frequency.
The availability of a vaccine allows individuals to prevent Hepatitis B acquisition. Young children, especially newborns, are given this vaccine to give them protection at the earliest time. However, if, in any case, a person has acquired the said disease, he/she must observe some precautionary measures to avoid the infection from being spread to another host. Note that there is no cure for the disease, which means that only the medications available, as well as following the safety measures, are needed to stop further infection.
The treatment given will also depend on the severity of the disease. It means that if it is acute only, no extensive treatment is needed as the body’s immune system has the capacity to fight off the infection. Meanwhile, if the disease has become chronic, extensive treatment is a requirement since the infection may have gotten worse. Serious health concerns can arise if hepatitis B is categorized as chronic in an infected individual. Furthermore, if a person has only acquired the acute infection, he/she may still require strict observation from the healthcare professional as the acute stage can become chronic.
Hepatitis B Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms associated with this disease can be considered severe. This is why immediate treatment is advised. Once treatment is given, it becomes easier to control and manage the disease. The symptoms can be categorized based on their severity or type of hepatitis B. Take the following into consideration and discuss with your healthcare professional immediately if you have these symptoms.
If a person has only acquired the acute version of the disease, the symptoms do not necessarily require immediate medical attention. The body’s immune system is capable of managing these symptoms. However, for the chronic type, some of these reactions can be hostile and require urgent medical aid.
- Pain in the abdomen
- Dark-colored urine
- Chills and fever
- Pain in the joints
- Appetite problems
- Unexplained weakness (fatigue)
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
- Light-colored stool
- Recurrent stomach upset
- Pain in the belly area
If you happen to experience the above symptoms, go to your healthcare professional at once and have yourself checked. Obtain the right treatment once you are diagnosed with the disease.
Causes of the Illness
Just like other infections, the most common way that others get infected is through close contact with someone who has the virus. Add to that the irresponsible transmission of the virus through blood and other bodily fluids, from which the viral concentration is high. For hepatitis B, the main triggering factors for possible infection are as follows:
- Unprotected sexual activity – This is, by far, the easiest way for the virus to infect other hosts. Any contact with a person who possesses the virus, from which the action is done by sexual contact or intercourse, enables the virus to run freely and enter the body easily.
- Engaging in a group or shared needles – Similar to HIV, people who engage in sharing syringes during group activities (may include parties where alcohol or drug abuse is rampant) are candidates for the said disease. Using shared needles, which are probably contaminated with hepatitis B, is a big concern that needs to be prevented.
- Mother-to-child transmission – Pregnant women who are infected with the virus long before their pregnancy should take precautionary measures during this period of their lives. Transmission regarding hepatitis B is high for a pregnant woman to her unborn child. Usually, the transmission occurs during delivery, which is why a pregnant woman is given the right medications that she needs to take.
For the mother-to-child transmission, a preventive measure can be done right after delivery. Vaccination is available for newborns to prevent them from acquiring the infection. Once the vaccine is injected, it works immediately by providing protection to the baby.
Complications Associated with the Disease
Once left untreated, hepatitis B, especially in its chronic stage, may lead someone to experience severe health complications. These complications may include:
- Cirrhosis – Also known as liver scarring, this medical condition is correlated with the infections’ inflammation capacities to the body. It also obstructs the liver from its normal function and damages its bodily operations.
- Cancer of the liver – If medications are not given immediately, individuals who are suffering from this chronic illness are likely to develop liver cancer as a result.
- Liver failure – Ever heard of a liver transplant? If so, the liver has stopped working, and its functions have been weakened. If accurate treatment is not administered, the liver will not be able to maintain its healthy operations.
How to Prevent the Illness?
Taking the necessary safety measures and consuming the right medicines are the best options to treat the disease. In preventing it, a series of activities must be avoided to block the virus from infecting, such as unprotected sex and irresponsible usage of shared syringes and needles. Other than that, it is also a must to have a regular visit to the healthcare professional to keep track of your progress while you’re on your treatment. This way, you will have a smooth journey in combating the disease. Be aware of the complications you will acquire if you refuse to consider the precautionary methods in avoiding hepatitis acquisition. Take good care of your liver and live healthily.
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