Health

How dangerous is hepatitis B? – VnExpress


Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the HBV virus, which, if not treated promptly, can cause hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.

Dr. CKI Hoang Dinh Thanh, Center for Endoscopy and Gastrointestinal Surgery, Tam Anh General Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, said that hepatitis B is the most common liver infection in the world. In the chronic stage, this condition can lead to many serious health problems such as cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer. Hepatitis B is classified into two types as acute hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis B.

Acute hepatitis B

Acute hepatitis B is a short-term infection that lasts within 6 months of exposure to HBV. Most people with acute hepatitis B have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some can become so severe that they need to be hospitalized.

According to Dr. Thanh, many people with acute hepatitis B, especially those infected in adulthood, can clear the virus out of the body thanks to the activity of the immune system and recover completely after a few days. months without leaving any sequelae. Conversely, if the immune system is unable to eliminate the virus, acute hepatitis B will progress to a chronic form.

Chronic hepatitis B

Chronic hepatitis B is an infection of the liver that lasts for 6 months or more. The HBV virus is not eliminated and continues to exist silently in the blood and liver of the patient. Over time, chronic hepatitis can cause serious health problems, including hepatitis damage, liver failure, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death.

Doctor Thanh said, the ability of hepatitis B to progress to chronic depends on the age of the infected person. The younger the infected person, the higher the chance that hepatitis will develop into a chronic one.

Illustration of the virus that causes hepatitis B. Photo: Shutterstock

Recognizing signs

Symptoms of acute hepatitis B

Doctor Thanh added that most children under 5 years old or people with weakened immune systems when infected with acute hepatitis B do not show obvious symptoms. For the remaining subjects (older children, adolescents and adults), about 30-50% will have initial signs and symptoms, including fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, pale stools, joint pain, jaundice.

Symptoms of acute infection appear about 60-150 days after exposure to the virus and last from several weeks to 6 months. Symptoms are often more severe in people over 60 years of age.

Symptoms of chronic hepatitis B

Most people with chronic hepatitis B do not have any symptoms for many years. If symptoms are present, they will be similar to those of an acute infection.

“In case a patient has had hepatitis B for a long time before showing symptoms, it is highly likely that it is a symptom of dangerous complications of hepatitis B such as cirrhosis or liver cancer, not just is hepatitis,” said Dr. Thanh.

Thanh said that the main routes of infection of this virus are similar to HIV, but the infectivity of HBV is 100 times higher than that of HIV. Hepatitis B virus is easily transmitted through blood, from mother to child, through sexual transmission.

Babies born to mothers with hepatitis B are at increased risk of infection.  Shutterstock photo

Babies born to mothers with hepatitis B are at increased risk of infection. Photo: Shutterstock

Hepatitis B when entering the chronic stage can lead to complications such as:

Cirrhosis: Prolonged hepatitis B can form scar tissue in the liver, causing cirrhosis and impairing the liver’s ability to function.

Liver cancer: People with chronic hepatitis B infection have a higher risk of liver cancer than those without the disease.

Liver failure: Hepatitis B is one of the causes of acute liver failure, which is massive damage to liver cells and significantly increases the risk of death. People with acute liver failure may need a liver transplant for treatment.

Other health problems: People with chronic hepatitis B can develop kidney disease or inflammation of the blood vessels.

The common age of hepatitis B infection

Hepatitis B is the most common viral hepatitis in the world. According to statistics from the Hepatitis B Foundation, globally, about 2 billion people have been infected with hepatitis B virus (meaning one in three people is infected with this virus), nearly 300 million people have chronic diseases. and 15 million new infections each year.

Vietnam is one of the countries with a high rate of hepatitis B virus infection in the world. According to statistics from the Department of Preventive Medicine (Ministry of Health), our country currently has about 10 million people infected with hepatitis B, of which the majority of patients have chronic hepatitis. Many people with hepatitis do not know they have the disease.

Anyone can get hepatitis B. However, people who are at higher risk for it are: infants born to infected mothers, people who inject drugs, and people who have sex with someone who is infected. hepatitis B patients, people living with someone with hepatitis B…

A pregnant woman with hepatitis B can pass the infection on to her baby at birth. Dr. Thanh advises women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to go to reputable medical facilities to be tested for hepatitis B. If infected with HBV, the pregnant woman will be closely monitored throughout the process. pregnant and may need treatment in the last 3 months of pregnancy when the viral load in the mother’s body is high.

In most cases, transmission of the virus from an infected mother to her baby can be prevented by giving a child a combination of hepatitis B immune globulin (called HBIG) and hepatitis B vaccine within 12-24 years. hours postpartum.

According to Dr. Thanh, nearly all infants infected with hepatitis B virus develop chronic hepatitis. It is for this reason that hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all infants to protect them from the disease.

The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to get vaccinated, but it’s also important to limit ways in which the hepatitis B virus can be transmitted.

Thuy Dung

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