Hepatitis B is the virus that predominantly affects the liver. There are various routes of hepatitis B infection. The important causes of infection are contaminated needle prick, blood transfusions from an infected individual, unprotected sex, and maternal to child transmission.
Infection of hepatitis B may be cleared from the body and may go to chronic infection. In the majority of the patients, it gets cleared within 6 months of infection. For a few patients when it is not cleared from the circulation in the first 6 months, it usually clears by the end of a year. It rarely gets cleared after a year of infection.
Acute Hepatitis B Infection:
Acute infection (infection less than 6 months), may or may not cause any harm to the liver. The grade of effect on the liver is varied, most of the time it does not cause significant harm. In a small number of cases, it causes acute hepatitis-like symptoms, and rarely it causes acute liver failure. The treatment of acute hepatitis is required in the case of acute liver failure or acute liver injury.
Chronic Hepatitis B Infection:
If hepatitis B persists in the blood even after 6 months of infection, it is called as a chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis B may cause chronic liver damage and liver cirrhosis. Hepatitis B may cause liver cancer in a small proportion of the infected patient. Patients of chronic hepatitis B require treatment, which depends on multiple biomarkers, patient's clinical condition, and family history of hepatocellular malignancy.
Diagnosis of hepatitis B is made by detection of HBsAg, HBV DNA, HBeAg, anti-HBe, etc. Grading of the severity of liver disease is done by non-invasive (fibroscan, ultrasound) and invasive (liver biopsy) methods.Last reviewed at: 18.Jan.2019