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hepatitis b

What is Hepatitis B ?

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver caused by a virus infection. The virus causes destruction of the liver tissue and may lead to liver cancer later in life.

How does one get infected by Hepatitis B virus ?

There are a large number of ' carriers ' of the Hepatitis B virus, who appear to be normal and healthy but can transmit the virus to others. Various instruments contaminated with the infected blood or body fluids of such ' carriers ' can transmit the virus to a healthy person.
The use of unsterilised needles for injections, ear piercing and tattooing, unsterilised instruments during operation or wound suturing and infected blood used during transfusion can put an individual at high risk of acquiring the Hepatitis B virus.

What are the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis B infection ?

Majority of infants and children infected with Hepatitis B do not show any signs and symptoms of Hepatitis B infection.
In the case of adults, a small number of individuals may not show any signs and symptoms. The others initially develop flu like symptoms such as :

  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Chills and mild fever
  • Body ache
  • Jaundice - yellowness of skin and eyes
  • Pale faeces
  • Dark urine

Is there any treatment available for this infection ?

Unfortunately NO. Only vaccination against the Hepatitis B virus can prevent this infection. Recently, interferons have been tried in certain selected patients of Hepatitis B and found to have variable results.

What is Hepatitis B vaccination ?

The Hepatitis B vaccination course comprises of 3 injections to be given at definite intervals over a period of 6 months. After vaccination, the body will be able to produce substances called antibodies which will protect against Hepatitis B infection.

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