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Hepatitis B: Causes, Symptoms, Transmission, and Diagnostic Tests

Dr Rishika Agarwal 6755 Views
Updated: 13 Oct 2023
Published: 12 Oct 2023
Hepatitis B: Causes, Symptoms, Transmission

Hepatitis B is an infection caused by a virus that primarily affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and can be transmitted through contact with infected blood or other body fluids. Symptoms of hepatitis B can vary from mild to severe and may include fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, clay-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

Some individuals, especially children, may not exhibit any symptoms. Hepatitis B can lead to an acute or chronic infection. Acute hepatitis B usually resolves within a few months, while chronic hepatitis B can persist for years, increasing the risk of liver complications such as cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms or believe you may have been exposed to hepatitis B to receive appropriate testing, monitoring, and potential treatment. Vaccination is available to prevent hepatitis B and is recommended for individuals at risk.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or other body fluids of an infected person. The most common modes of transmission include:

  1. Unprotected sexual contact: Hepatitis B can be spread through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner. It is especially common among people who have multiple sexual partners or engage in high-risk sexual behaviors.

  2. Direct contact with infected blood: Sharing needles or syringes contaminated with the virus, such as in intravenous drug use, is a significant risk factor for hepatitis B transmission. It can also occur through accidental needlestick injuries or sharing personal items such as razors or toothbrushes contaminated with infected blood.

  3. Mother-to-child transmission: A pregnant woman infected with hepatitis B can pass the virus to her baby during childbirth. However, the risk of transmission can be significantly reduced with appropriate medical interventions, such as administering the hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) to the newborn.

  4. Occupational exposure: Healthcare workers or individuals who come into contact with blood or body fluids in their work environment may be at risk of acquiring hepatitis B if appropriate safety precautions, such as using protective barriers and following standard infection control practices, are not followed.

  5. Contaminated medical equipment: In settings where infection control practices are inadequate, hepatitis B can be transmitted through the use of contaminated medical equipment, such as needles, syringes, and surgical instruments.

It's important to note that hepatitis B is not spread through casual contact like hugging, kissing, or sharing food or water. Practicing safe sex, avoiding sharing needles or personal items, and ensuring proper sterilization of medical equipment are essential in preventing the transmission of hepatitis B. Vaccination against hepatitis B is also highly effective in preventing infection.

In India, the diagnostic tests for hepatitis B are similar to those used worldwide. The following tests are commonly conducted for diagnosing hepatitis B:

  1. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) test: This test detects the presence of the HBsAg protein, indicating an active hepatitis B infection.
  2. Hepatitis B surface antibody (anti-HBs) test: This test measures the presence of antibodies against the HBV surface antigen, indicating immunity either through vaccination or past infection.
  3. Hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc) test: The anti-HBc test detects antibodies against the hepatitis B core antigen, indicating a previous or ongoing hepatitis B infection.
  4. Hepatitis B E antigen (HBeAg) test: This test detects the presence of the HBeAg protein, indicating active viral replication and a higher level of infectivity.
  5. Hepatitis B viral DNA (HBV DNA) test: This test measures the amount of HBV genetic material in the blood, helping assess viral replication and monitor treatment effectiveness.
  6. Liver function tests: Liver function tests, including ALT and AST, are performed to evaluate liver health and assess the extent of liver damage caused by hepatitis B.

Early diagnosis helps manage the symptoms of hepatitis much better. So if you suffer from any symptoms, it is important to get tested. You can now book your test with Pathkind Labs.

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Related Test

Component : Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) DNA Detector, Qualitative

Include : parameters

Specimen : 1.5 ml EDTA Plasma. Separate Plasma within 2 hrs of collection by centrifuge at 1800g for 10-12 min. Kindly ship along with Cold packs to maintain temperature of 4- 15°C

Report Delivery :


Component : Hepatitis B Surface Ag, IHC

Include : parameters

Specimen : Tissue In 10% Formalin Or FFPE Block

Report Delivery :


Component : Hepatitis Be Virus Antigen (HBeAg)

Include : parameters

Specimen : Serum

Report Delivery :


Component : Hepatitis B Surface Antibodies (HBsAb)

Include : parameters

Specimen : Serum

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