Hepatitis B is caused by the HBV virus and can result in liver failure, liver cancer and scarring of the liver. Around 240 million people have chronic liver infections as a result of this virus. Unlike Hepatitis A, this virus can be life threatening. However, in the majority of cases, the infection can be fought off and patients develop lifetime immunity. There are two types of HBV infection, acute Hepatitis B and chronic Hepatitis B. The symptoms of acute Hepatitis B appear quickly. Chronic Hepatitis B often develops overtime and in many cases, the symptoms go unnoticed until complications occur.
The HBV virus, much like the Hepatitis A virus, is highly contagious. Unlike with Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B is not transmitted through contaminated food or drink. It spreads when a person comes into contact with infected blood, saliva and bodily fluids. A pregnant woman that is infected with Hepatitis B can transfer it to her child during childbirth.
Hepatitis B Symptoms
A person may have the disease but not show any symptoms. Being asymptomatic does not mean that the person is not contagious, however. During the acute infection period, many people do not display any symptoms. Some people in the acute infection period may experience abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue and jaundice. The symptoms may worsen and develop into chronic liver infection that can lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis. The majority of healthy adults who are diagnosed with acute Hepatitis B will see a full recovery and be virus free within six months.
Hepatitis B Treatment
Presently, there is no definitive treatment for acute Hepatitis B. The main focus of treatment is on keeping patients hydrated and maintaining a healthy diet. People who have chronic Hepatitis B may take medications that include antiviral drugs. The medications help to delay the onset of liver cirrhosis and prolong the life of the patient. A patient that develops liver cancer may need to undergo a liver transplant.