Hepatitis is inflammation of liver caused by a number of viruses. It is transmitted by sexual contact or sharing injection instruments with an infected person, transfusion of infected blood or blood product.
Infection with hepatitis virus may result in a series of symptoms such as tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, yellowing of eye sclera and tea-colored urine, or the patient may not show any symptoms at all.
Statistically speaking 5-10% adult who are infect with Hepatitis B will develop into acute hepatitis or become carriers.
Hepatitis B can either develop into acute Hepatitis, or it is able to convert from acute hepatitis to chronic hepatitis.
Before showing any symptoms, the infection may incubate for several months. This is a highly infectious period. The person could pass the infection to others unknowingly.
The early symptoms and signs of hepatitis B are nonspecific and resemble those of a flu. These include mild fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, loss of appetite, distaste to cigarette, nausea and diarrhea. As the condition turn worse, the skin and the 'white' of the eyes will become yellow in color. At the same time, the urine also gets darker, almost tea- like. This is called “jaundice”.
A more common occurrence is chronic Hepatitis B. The infected person may not know he or she has the disease because there may not be any symptoms for years.
How do I find out if I am infected with Hepatitis B?
As hepatitis B share the common symptoms as the flu, therefore blood test is the only method to determine whether a person is infected with hepatitis B
There are also effective vaccines for hepatitis A and B available in Hong Kong. Since 1988, Hong Kong government has started the universal neonate hepatitis B vaccination program. You should consult with your physician whether you can benefit from these vaccinations.
Currently there is no definitive effective cure for hepatitis B, yet there is adopted medication to combat against hepatitis B virus. After the treatment it’s possible to lower the level of virus below detectable threshold.
Also some studies have shown that some recovered acute or chronic hepatitis B patients will be immune to the virus for life. Hepatitis B carrier is a term used to describe those who have hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in the blood for more than 6 months yet there are no symptoms and are unaware of their status as Hepatitis B carrier. Physicians will carry out a series of investigations such as blood tests to ascertain the diagnosis, and will recommend appropriate treatment regimen depending on the patient's condition.
If you have been diagnosed with viral hepatitis, there are several ways to stay healthy:
- - Avoid alcohol which is harmful to your liver.
- - Exercise regularly with advice from your physician.
- - Do not take any non-prescribed drugs. Many drugs have a damaging effect on the liver.
- - If you are a hepatitis B carrier, your sexual partner may consider to take blood test and see if any hepatitis B vaccine is needed.