Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It can be categorized into two forms: acute and chronic. Most individuals experience acute hepatitis B, which typically lasts less than six months and resolves on its own. However, for some individuals, the infection becomes chronic, persisting for more than six months. Chronic hepatitis B poses serious risks such as liver failure, liver cancer, and cirrhosis, a condition characterized by permanent liver scarring.
While most adults recover fully from hepatitis B, even in cases of severe symptoms, infants and children are more prone to developing chronic infections. This chronic state of the disease can have long-lasting effects. Although a vaccine is available for preventing hepatitis B, there is currently no cure for those already infected. However, taking certain precautions can help minimize the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that specifically targets the liver, causing inflammation in its tissues. This inflammation, known as hepatitis, initiates as an acute infection that typically resolves within a short period. However, in some individuals, the infection persists and becomes chronic, leading to ongoing liver damage. Disturbingly, chronic hepatitis B can progress silently without causing noticeable symptoms, leaving many people unaware of their infection and the potential harm it can cause to their liver health.
Hepatitis B has distinct characteristics that differentiate it from other hepatitis viruses:
Overall, the combination of preventability through vaccination, the increased susceptibility of children, the risk of mother-to-child transmission, and the need for long-term management distinguish hepatitis B from other hepatitis viruses.
Acute hepatitis B symptoms might be mild or severe. Although you could see them as soon as two weeks after infection, they often appear 1 to 4 months after infection. Young children are most often those who don’t exhibit any signs.
Signs and symptoms of hepatitis B might include:
If you suspect that you have been exposed to hepatitis B or are experiencing symptoms, it is vital to contact your healthcare provider promptly. Seeking immediate medical attention within 24 hours of exposure can potentially lower the risk of infection through preventive treatment. Whether you suspect exposure or have symptoms, reaching out to your healthcare provider will enable them to evaluate your situation and provide appropriate guidance.
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the principal cause of hepatitis B infection. Through blood, semen, or other bodily fluids, the virus is transferred from one person to another. It cannot be spread through coughing or sneezing.
Common methods of HBV transmission include:
Acute hepatitis B infection, as the name suggests, can be transient. Or it could be persistent, lasting a long time.
The likelihood of developing chronic hepatitis B increases with age, especially in infants and children under the age of five. Before a person develops severe liver disease, a chronic infection may go unnoticed for years.
The transmission of Hepatitis B occurs through exposure to blood, semen, or other bodily fluids of an individual who is infected. Your likelihood of contracting Hepatitis B is elevated under the following circumstances:
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