Hepatitis B

Olga Berezhko

General practitioner

Olga Berezhko

Experience 36 year

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that leads to liver damage. In the progressive clinical course, it provokes chronic diseases, cirrhosis and oncological lesions. Special attention is paid to this disease, because in a latent form it can be asymptomatic for a long time, also it is transmitted to other people.

General information about the disease

Viral hepatitis B or serum hepatitis is an infectious pathology of the liver that proceeds in several clinical variants. Asymptomatic carriage or destruction of the hepatic parenchyma are not excluded. Damage of liver cells is autoimmune.

The main factor determining the rapid spread of the virus is its resistance to environmental conditions. It remains active for many years in blood and its components, it can exist for several months at room temperature and also on medical instruments. It dies in autoclaves and hot-air sterilizers, in interaction with formalin and hydrogen peroxide.

The main symptoms of hepatitis B:

  • health disorder;
  • loss of appetite, weakness, lethargy;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • increase in body temperature to subfebrile marks;
  • soreness;
  • headache;
  • respiratory symptoms;
  • dark urine;
  • yellowing of the sclera of the eyes;
  • pain and heaviness in the right hypochondrium;
  • staining of the palms and skin in yellow.

There are several forms of hepatitis B in the international classification of diseases:

  • acute hepatitis B. It proceeds with a pronounced clinical picture. The person can be cured. Recovery occurs in 95% of cases. The prognosis is less favorable for the newborns - 90%;
  • chronic hepatitis B. It often appears after the acute phase of the disease, but it can emerge without it. It may be asymptomatic or cause cirrhosis immediately;
  • hidden carrier. There are no symptoms.

Hepatitis B is caused by contact with the body fluids of an infected person. The virus is contained in saliva, sweat, tears, semen, urine and blood. The infection often occurs during unprotected sextual intercourse or as a result of the usage of non-sterile tools during some medical or cosmetic procedures.

General recommendation for the prevention of viral hepatitis B is to observe sanitary and hygienic norms aimed at reducing the risk of infection during medical procedures. Each person is obliged to observe all rules of hygiene, using their own toothbrushes and razors. It is important to avoid casual unprotected sex.

The main measure to prevent hepatitis B is vaccination. After vaccination, immunity to hepatitis B persists for 15 years. Such vaccinations in Russia are given to children, moreover they are indicated to people who are at the high-risk group.

Acute viral hepatitis B can be fatal only if the course of the disease is intensive. The prognosis worsens when a patient is diagnosed with concomitant liver pathologies and combined with hepatitis C. Hepatitis is a factor that reduces life expectancy, because in the chronic course of the disease it leads to the development of cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Treatment Information

Acute hepatitis B is treatable in 90% of cases. The patient's recovery comes 1-6 months after the start of therapy. The prognosis improves when the symptoms are detected at an early stage. Diagnostics and treatment of all forms of viral hepatitis B is carried out by a hepatologist or an infection disease specialist. The prognosis is poor in the chronic course. Recovery is impossible. The patient will die in 6-10 years due to complications. 

Hepatitis B is diagnosed by detecting specific virus antibodies in the blood in serum and immunoglobulins to them. PCR test is used to isolate the DNA of the virus in order to evaluate the activity. ELISA and RIA serological tests are carried out.

Hepatitis B treatment should be supervised by a specialist. Self-medication will not lead to good results. The therapy is based on several principles:

  • body detoxification;
  • support of vital functions;
  • immunity strengthening;
  • dietary intervention;
  • symptom suppression.

The mild course of hepatitis requires a sparing diet. The patient should eat fractionally and in small portions 5-6 times a day, observe bed rest and get up only for self-service. If the patient's condition is of moderate severity, preparations for detoxification are injected dropwise. Hepatoprotectors are used to protect cells from destruction and for vitamins. In severe cases, treatment is provided in the intensive care unit. 

Answers to common questions

How long does hepatitis B treatment take?

Hepatitis B treatment lasts at least 1 month if the process is acute. Rehabilitation follows after completion of the main stage of therapy. As for chronic hepatitis B, full recovery is impossible, the patient is indicated for medical support throughout all his life. The prognosis is unfavorable. If complications develop, it is fatal.

How to protect yourself from infection?

Observation of the sanitary and hygienic standards helps to protect yourself from infection. Before carrying out cosmetic procedures (e.g. manicure), you need to make sure that the used tools are sterile. Use only personal products for hygiene and refuse unprotected sexual intercourse.

Is it possible to get hepatitis B again?

No, after a single infection, antibodies in the body persist for the rest of a person's life. Antibodies reliably protect a person from re-infection.

Is vertical infection possible?

Yes, a child born to an infected mother may be infected with hepatitis B. In this case, the test for the presence of the virus is carried out immediately after birth. If the child is infected, the likelihood of the disease progressing to the chronic stage is the highest.

Is it possible to get infected through saliva when kissing?

The virus is present in all human biological fluids, including saliva. Infection is possible if there are ulcers, cracks or other microtraumas, when saliva enters the oral cavity.

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