Chronic Liver Disease (CLD) is commonly due to hepatitis that lasts more than six months and is often caused by viruses such as hepatitis B and C viruses among other diseases. Around the world, millions of people are affected by hepatitis B virus and up to 1 million people die from it. Hepatitis B virus is preventable and once acquired, it is treatable by Best Hepatologist in Lahore.
Read on to know more about chronic hepatitis B infection:
What is hepatitis B virus (HBV)?
The virus of hepatitis B causes serious liver disease by attacking the liver cells called hepatocytes. This virus causes hepatocyte damage through chronic inflammation, which can ultimately result in hardening or scarring of the liver called cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma and even death.
There are two forms of hepatitis B infections: acute or chronic.
Acute hepatitis B virus is when one is first infected by the virus within the first six months, and during this time the patient is sick only for a short duration. Most cases of acute hepatitis are self-limiting, presenting with no or mild symptoms. Majority of people with acute hepatitis B can clear the infection from their body and recover from the disease. In fact, four out of five adults with hepatitis B infection get better on their own. The remaining percentage of people with hepatitis B often have severe infection, needing hospitalization and in-patient treatment.
Chronic hepatitis B infection is one that lasts for more than six months. It is this form of hepatitis B which can prove life-threatening due to potentially serious inflammation of the liver cells. With treatment this ongoing inflammation can slow down and the disease can become manageable.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B presents with the symptoms of:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches and joint pains
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of energy
- Dark urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mild fever
- Jaundice or yellow discoloration of skin
What are the causes of hepatitis B?
The main cause of hepatitis B is the HBV, which can be transmitted from one person to another through exchange of fluids:
- Sexual contact: unprotected sexual contact with an infected person can result in transmission of infection. This occurs because the virus is present in the bodily secretions including blood, saliva, vaginal secretions and semen. The exchange of these bodily fluids can result in transmission of infection.
- Vertical transmission: the virus can also pass on from the infected mother to the baby during childbirth. To protect the newborn, the mother can be vaccinated against hepatitis B before and during pregnancy.
- Needle use: sharing of needles between an infected and uninfected individual can result in disease transmission and contamination with hepatitis B. For this reason, individuals who use drugs of abuse and share needles often have concurrent hepatitis B infection.
- Needle sticks: healthcare providers and other people can acquire the infection from their patients in case of needle sticks and incidental pricks.
What are the risk factors of hepatitis B?
The risk factors of hepatitis B include:
- Unprotected sex between an infected and uninfected person.
- Men having sex with men
- Babies born to infected mothers
- Exposure to the blood of infected individuals
- Needle sharing between drug addicts
What are the complications of hepatitis B infection?
The complications of hepatitis B include:
- Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis): the continuous and chronic inflammation associated with hepatitis B infection can lead to extensive scarring of the liver or cirrhosis. This can impair the functioning ability of the liver and leads to chronic liver failure in the long run.
- Liver failure: if the liver shuts down its function in the short term, it results in acute liver failure. In case this occurs, a liver transplant is mandated for survival.
- Liver cancer: the risk of chronic liver failure and cirrhosis rises in hepatitis B infection, which can predispose to the development of liver cancer.
What are the treatment options?
Based on whether the hepatitis B infection is acute or chronic, the treatment options by Hepatologist in Karachi include:
- Acute hepatitis B: needs only rest, fluids and healthy diet.
- Chronic hepatitis B: treated with interferon drug therapy.