Hepatitis B is an infectious disease caused by hepatitis B virus. The virus attacks the liver leading to an inflammation of this organ. The disease is transferred by sexual contact or by sharing the needles which is common among intravenous drug addicts. Health care workers especially nurses are at higher risk as they manipulate with needles and can be infected by the accident prick. The amazing fact is that two thirds of all the people in the world have been infected with this virus. Luckily the introduction of the vaccine has drastically reduced the morbidity rate.
The symptoms of hepatitis B include poor appetite, nausea and vomiting. Jaundice followed by dark coloration of urine is a common sign. One may have increased body temperature and suffer from pain in muscles. The problem is that the acute form of the disease may become chronic. The chronic hepatitis B is huge risk factor for liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer. In rather rare cases a fulminant form of the disease occurs. This hepatitis features with severe symptoms and rapid progress and may even lead to death. The diagnosis is set after antigens and antibodies specific for hepatitis B have been detected.
In acute form of the disease there is no treatment as the infection actually heals on its own. Only in case of fulminant hepatitis a patient may be given antiviral medications.
Chronic form of the disease has to be treated with appropriate drugs and this is the only way for a patient to avoid complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Alanine aminotransferase levels are determinants whether the chronic infection is present and all those patient with constant increase of levels of this liver enzyme need to be on permanent therapy.
The medications include antiviral drugs such as lamivudine, adefovir dipivoxil, and Baraclude. This Therapy includes interferon as well. Interferon is injected into the body. This medication possesses several side effects. The goal of the therapy is to inhibit the multiplication of the viruses hence reduce the risk of further damage to the liver. In extreme cases when the damage to the liver is so severe one may even need a transplant.
The best way is to avoid infection if possible. This vaccine is highly effective and is given to risk groups. They include intravenous drug abusers, promiscuity people, homosexuals and medical workers.
Even the simple procedures may be effective in prevention of this horrible disease. Everybody should have safe sex. Razors and needles must not be shared. Tattooing and piercing in unauthorized studios may be a potential source of infection.