What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is an infectious illness caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) which infects the liver. Transmission of hepatitis B virus results from exposure to infectious blood or body fluids.
How does one get Hepatitis B?
- Sexual intercourse with an infected person (vaginal, anal or oral sex)
- Receiving contaminated blood products
- Infected mother to child (during normal child birth)
- Needle sharing and needle stick injury
- Sharing contaminated equipment e.g. tattooing and acupuncture needles
What are the symptoms and signs of Hepatitis B?
- It may be without symptoms or may present with severe liver disease
- If an individual has acute Hepatitis B, he/she will experience malaise, low grade fever, nausea, loss of appetite, dark tea-colored urine and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
- Some infected individuals do not show any signs and may remain symptom free and ignorant of the infection until they are tested
How is Hepatitis B diagnosed?
- Hepatitis B antigen tests: the presence of Hepatitis B antigen means that the person is infected and infectious to others
- Hepatitis B antibody test: the presence of Hepatitis B antibody means that the person is immune
- Liver function tests assess the functional state of the liver
Can a Hepatitis B carrier be cured?
- There are new medications that can help some carriers to get rid of their infection. You should seek advice from a specialist for further information
- Regular check-ups with your doctor to assess the function of the liver and detect any early cancerous changes
- Sexual partners should be screened for infection
- Pregnant women must inform their obstetrician so that necessary precautions may be taken to prevent infecting the newborn
- Inform your doctor and dentist that you are a carrier so that precautions may be taken during procedures
- Do not share personal items like shavers and toothbrushes as there may be blood contamination
- Use a condom during sexual intercourse to prevent infecting others
Find out more through this Patient Information Leaflet.
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