Cases of hepatitis B in the United States may be on the decline, but the viral infection is still a serious health issue that requires medical management and monitoring due to how it affects the liver. Meade Edmunds, MD, and his experienced team at Edmunds Gastroenterology in Knoxville, Tennessee, specialize in the management of hepatitis B and can provide the expert care you need. Call the office today or book an appointment online.
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. It often presents as an acute infection, but on most occasions it spontaneously resolves.
Hepatitis B is typically caused by a spread of the hepatitis B virus through secretions of blood of an infected person. It can be passed through needle sharing with intravenous drug abuse or using dirty tattoo needles.
Exposure to secretions through toothbrushes or razors from an infected person and unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person can result in hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is also known to be passed from mother to baby at the time of birth.
Depending upon the stage of the infection, whether acute or chronic, hepatitis B has a variety of presentations. Typically, you may experience an acute flu-like illness with an acute hepatitis B infection or no symptoms at all. You may then feel fatigued, nauseated, and feverish and develop right upper quadrant pain due to the inflammation of the liver caused by the infection.
During the acute infection, there can also be a change in the color of the urine or the stool with the urine getting darker and the stools lighter. Jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and scleral icterus (yellowing of the eyes) may also occur.
Hepatitis B is typically diagnosed through blood tests looking for markers of hepatitis B infection. Markers such as hepatitis B antigen and DNA studies specific to hepatitis B are often used. In certain cases, a liver biopsy may also be beneficial in helping to identify a hepatitis B viral infection.
In the majority of cases, hepatitis B does not need to be treated and runs a limited course. The body can usually eradicate hepatitis B on its own within six months, and this results in immunity from further hepatitis B infections.
In certain cases, hepatitis B infection may become chronic and require you to engage in lifelong therapy for suppression of the hepatitis B virus. If you have hepatitis B, you should be vaccinated against hepatitis A unless you’re already immune to hepatitis A.
Routine screening for liver cancer on a regular basis is also recommended due to its association with the development of cirrhosis.
For diagnosis and management of hepatitis B, call Edmunds Gastroenterology today or book an appointment online.
This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please consult with your primary care physician or a specialist regarding your symptoms.