Hepatitis B, also known as HBV, is a life-threatening condition due to an adverse effect on the liver. Learn more about the main symptoms and risk factors.
The name of this disease is derived from the Greek word hêpar, meaning "liver". Hepatitis B infection can cause acute liver inflammation, as well as chronic illness or even death. Approximately 1,800 people die each year due to complications due to adverse effects of hepatitis B on the liver. A virus that causes hepatitis B is similar to retroviruses such as HIV. It has the ability to last long in infected cells, multiply and trigger a chronic illness.
The greatest risk for hepatitis B is that the acute infection can be chronic, causing a wide range of liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.
What symptoms does hepatitis B have?
Approximately two-thirds of people with hepatitis B in the acute phase do not have symptoms. In some cases, symptoms may occur, especially in adults or children aged over five years, lasting several weeks. A third of people who suffer from this condition will also experience significant symptoms. Usually they occur 2-5 months after exposure to the source.
Here are the main symptoms of hepatitis B:
– excessive fatigue;
– muscle pain;
– joint pain;
– pain in the stomach;
– dark urine;
– jaundice (yellowing of the skin).
In general, these phenomena last for several weeks, but in some cases they may last up to six months. People with chronic disease are no longer able to remove the virus. Occasionally, I can feel significant symptoms or may not appear for several years.
The risk of chronic disease depends on the age at which the virus is infected. Children infected six years of age are prone to chronic illness. According to the studies, 90% of children who were exposed to this virus during the first year of life would have chronic hepatitis B.
For adults, only 5% of infected people will have a chronic infection. Of those with chronic hepatitis B, approximately 15-30% suffer from severe liver disease, such as cirrhosis or cancer, with a survival rate of 50% over a five-year period.
Causes and risk factors
Hepatitis B triggers a viral infection. The virus can survive for seven days outside the body, during which it can infect anyone with whom it comes in direct contact. It can be detected within 30 to 60 days after infection and may also persist in the body, causing a chronic infection if the patient is of an early age.
Hepatitis B can be transmitted as follows:
1. Perinatal transmission
It is one of the main causes of the spread of the virus, which is transmitted from birth to mother to child.
2. Exposure to infected blood
The second common cause is the exposure of blood containing this virus.
The transmission of a virus from a sick child to a healthy child is often detected during the first five years of life. Other high-risk scenarios are the common use of razor blades, toothbrushes, or other sharp tools. When the infected blood comes into contact with wounds or scratches of a healthy person, the virus can spread.
3. sexually transmitted
Approximately two-thirds of acute cases of hepatitis B is due to the sexual transmission of the virus.
4. Needle sharing
The use of needles or syringes in the jointly increases the risk of infection. This can happen in inadequately equipped health centers or in the case of drug users. The virus can also be expanded with instruments used to perform tattoos or various operations.