Hepatitis B: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment


According to the World Health Organization hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by a virus called Hepatitis B. So it’s a big health issue worldwide affecting millions of people. In this article we’ll talk about what causes its symptoms and how to prevent it.

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that spreads through contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids. It can make the liver inflamed leading to short term (acute) or long term (chronic) problems. Chronic cases can be risky, potentially causing liver cirrhosis or cancer. Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. The virus is most commonly transmitted from mother to child during birth and delivery in early childhood as well as through contact with blood or other body fluids during sex with an infected partner, unsafe injections or exposures to sharp instruments. The World Health Organization estimated that 296 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B infection in 2019 with 1.5 million new infections each year. In 2019 hepatitis B resulted in an estimated 820,000 deaths mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (primary liver cancer). Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccines that are safe, available and effective.

What is Acute or Chronic Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B infection may be short lived also called acute. Or it might last a long time also known as chronic.

Acute hepatitis B infection:

In less than six months your immune system likely can clear acute hepatitis B from your body and you should recover completely within a few months. Most people who get hepatitis B as adults have an acute infection but it can lead to chronic infection.

Chronic hepatitis B infection:

Last six months or longer. It lingers because your immune system can’t fight off the infection. Chronic hepatitis B infection may last a lifetime possibly leading to serious illnesses such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Some people with chronic it may have no symptoms at all. Some may have ongoing fatigue and mild symptoms of acute hepatitis. The younger you are when you get it particularly newborns or children younger than 5 the higher your risk of the infection becoming chronic. The chronic infection may go undetected for decades until a person becomes seriously ill from liver disease.

What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis B?

Symptoms of acute hepatitis B range from mild to severe. They usually appear about 1 to 4 months after you’ve been infected, although you could see them as early as two weeks after you’re infected. Some people, usually young children, may not have any symptoms. It signs and symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue

Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes are also called jaundice.

What are the Causes of Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B infection is caused by the virus. This virus is passed from person to person through blood semen or other body fluids. It does not spread by sneezing or coughing. Common ways that (HBV) can spread are:

  • Sexual contact
  • Sharing of needles
  • Accidental needle sticks
  • Mother to child

What are the Risk Factors of Hepatitis B?

It spread through contact with blood semen or other body fluids from an infected person. Your risk of it infection increases if you:

  • Have unprotected sex with multiple sex partners or with someone who’s infected with HBV
  • Share needles during IV drug use
  • Are a man who has sex with other men
  • Live with someone who has a chronic HBV infection
  • Are an infant born to an infected mother
  • Have a job that exposes you to human blood
  • Travel to regions with high infection rates of HBV such as Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and Eastern Europe

What is the Diagnosis of Hepatitis B?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and look for signs of liver damage such as yellowing skin or belly pain. Tests that can help diagnose its complications are:

  • Blood tests
  • Liver ultrasound
  • Liver biopsy

What are the Complications of Hepatitis B?

Having a chronic HBV infection can lead to serious complications such as:

  • Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver failure
  • Reactivation of the hepatitis B virus
  • Other conditions

What is the Prevention of Hepatitis B?

This vaccine is typically given as two injections separated by a month or three or four injections over six months depending on which vaccine is given. You can’t get hepatitis B from the vaccine. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended by the United States Advisory Committee on immunization practices for adults 19 to 59 years of age who don’t have a contraindication to the vaccine. This vaccine is also strongly recommended for:

  • Newborns
  • Children and adolescents not vaccinated at birth
  • Those who work or live in a center for people who are developmentally disabled
  • People who live with someone who has this virus
  • Healthcare workers emergency workers and other people who come into contact with blood
  • Anyone who has a sexually transmitted infection including HIV
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who have multiple sexual partners
  • Sexual partners of someone who has this virus
  • People who inject illegal drugs or share needles and syringes
  • People with chronic liver disease
  • People with end stage kidney disease
  • Travelers planning to go to an area of the world with a high hepatitis B infection rate.

Take precautions to avoid HBV:

Another ways to reduce your risk of HBV include:

  • Know the HBV status of any sexual partner
  • Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex
  • Don’t use illegal drugs
  • Be cautious about body piercing and tattooing
  • Ask about the hepatitis B vaccine before you travel

What are the Treatments of Hepatitis B?

There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B. Chronic hepatitis B can be treated with medications. Care for acute care should focus on making the person comfortable. They should eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. Chronic virus infection can be treated with oral medications including tenofovir or entecavir.

  • Treatment can;
  • Slow the advance of cirrhosis
  • Reduce cases of liver cancer
  • Improve long term survival

Most people who start it treatment must continue it for life. It is estimated that 12-25% of people with chronic this infection will require treatment depending on setting and eligibility criteria. The ongoing 2023 update of the World Health Organization’s treatment guidelines will expand treatment eligibility and increase the proportion of people on treatment. In low income settings most people with liver cancer present late in the course of the disease and die within months of diagnosis. In high income countries patients present to hospital earlier in the course of the disease and have access to surgery and chemotherapy which can prolong life for several months to a few years. Liver transplantation is sometimes used in people with cirrhosis or liver cancer in technologically advanced countries with varying success.

What is Screening Healthy People for Hepatitis B?

Healthcare providers sometimes test certain healthy people for it infection because the virus can damage the liver before causing signs and symptoms. Talk to your doctor about screening for hepatitis B infection if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Live with someone who has a hepatitis B
  • Have had many sexual partners
  • Have had sex with someone who has a hepatitis B
  • Are a men who has a sex with men
  • Have a history of a sexually transmitted illness
  • Have HIV or hepatitis C
  • Have a liver enzyme test with unexplained abnormal results
  • Receive a kidney dialysis
  • Take medications that suppress the immune system such as those used to prevent rejection after an organ transplant
  • Use illegal injected drugs
  • Are in prison
  • Were born in a country where it is common

HBV-HIV Coinfection:

About 1% or people living with HBV infection (2.7 million people) are also infected with HIV. Conversely the global prevalence of HBV infection in HIV infected persons is 7.4%. Since 2015 the World Health Organization has recommended treatment for everyone diagnosed with HIV infection regardless of the stage of disease. Tenofovir which is included in the treatment combinations recommended as first-line therapy for HIV infection is also active against HBV.


What are the early symptoms of hepatitis?

However, here are some common warning symptoms of hepatitis:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Light-colored stool
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice

Can CBC tests find hepatitis?

CBC is a common blood test that checks for changes in the blood. It’s often done during health checkups, even if you don’t have any symptoms. However, a CBC test doesn’t specifically look for potential hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

Where does hepatitis cause pain?

Typically, people with chronic hepatitis C may experience pain in the abdomen, which is often a sharp sensation felt on the right side of the body. They may also have digestive issues like nausea, indigestion, and bloating, as well as itchy skin.

Can liver problems lead to gas?

Yes, when the liver isn’t functioning properly, it may struggle to filter toxins from the bloodstream. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and skin issues. Additionally, a damaged liver does not produce enough digestive juices to break down food effectively, leading to frequent bloating and a feeling of pressure in the abdomen. Confusion can also be s symptoms of liver problems.

How to detoxify your liver?

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Sweat it out
  • Avoid toxic foods
  • Try raw vegetables juices
  • Eat potassium-rich foods
  • Consider liver support supplements

What drinks are good for liver detox?

Oat tea is considered a great option for liver detoxification. Oats are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which support digestions and help the liver and intestine. Oat tea can help flush toxins of your body making it a popular choice for detox drinks.

Are bananas good for the liver?

Yes, bananas are beneficial for liver health, particularly for individuals with fatty liver disease. Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin A, which support liver function. Additionally, they are high in resistant starch, which is beneficial for liver health. Including bananas in the diet can be helpful for maintaining a healthy liver.

Is hepatitis B 100% curable?

It is not 100% curable. While most cases of it resolve on their own within 4 to 8 weeks, there is no specific cure for this virus. However, the good news is that more than 90% of adults who get hepatitis B fully recover from the infection. Unfortunately, about 5% of adults who get it develop chronic (long-lasting) infections and become carriers of the virus.

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Hepatitis A: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, & Diagnosis

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