Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver.
Viruses cause most cases of hepatitis. The type of hepatitis is named for the virus that causes it; for example, hepatitis A, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Drugs or alcohol use can also cause hepatitis. In other cases, your body mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in the liver.
Some people who have hepatitis have no symptoms. Others may have:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dark urine movements
- Stomach ache
- Jaundice, yellowing of the skin and eyes
Some forms of hepatitis are mild, and others can be serious. Some can lead to cirrhosis, or liver cancer.
What is hepatitis B?
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is endemic worldwide. The infection is spread mainly through percutaneous contact with infected blood products (e.g., blood transfusion, separation of needles from intravenous drug addicts). The virus is also found in various fluids of the human body, and is known to spread through oral and genital contacts. HBV can be transmitted from mother to child during birth through contact with blood secretions and vaginal secretions, but is not usually transmitted by transplantation.
The hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is the first serological marker to appear in serum at 6 to 16 weeks after exposure to HBV. In acute infection, HBsAg usually disappears in 1 to 2 months after the onset of symptoms. The persistence of HBsAg for more than 6 months in duration indicates the development of a chronic disease or chronic HBV infection.