Hepatitis Profile II (Diagnostic Follow-up)
Private MD Lab Services offers
the following test to aid in the diagnosis of hepatitis B:
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver.
The liver becomes inflamed and tender. It may also become swollen. Areas
of liver tissue may be destroyed by the inflammation. Hepatitis B is a
serious, sometimes severe and even fatal type of hepatitis.
How does it occur?
Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus.
You get hepatitis B by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of
an infected person. For example, you can get it from:
- Having unprotected sex with someone infected
with hepatitis B
- Sharing needles for drug injection with
an infected person
- Your mother if she had hepatitis B at the
time she gave birth to you
- Getting a body part pierced or a permanent
tattoo with nonsterile equipment.
The disease can be spread by people who do not
have any symptoms and may not know they carry the virus. These people are
called asymptomatic carriers.
What are the symptoms?
You may not have any symptoms of hepatitis until
several weeks or months after you are infected with the virus. Or you may
never have any obvious symptoms.
If you have symptoms, the illness usually begins
with these flulike symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- General aching
Other early symptoms may include:
- Itching, sometimes with hives
- Painful joints
- Loss of taste for cigarettes if you are
After several days you may also have these symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Foul breath and bitter taste in the mouth
- Dark brown urine
- Yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Pain just below the ribs on your right
side, especially if you press on that part of your abdomen
- Bowel movements that are whitish or light
yellow and may be looser than normal.
Some people develop a chronic form of the disease
without having any obvious symptoms, even though damage to the liver may
be occurring. The symptoms of chronic hepatitis may be persistent fatigue,
weakness, and loss of appetite, as well as some of the other symptoms listed
How is it diagnosed?
Your health care provider will ask about your medical
history and symptoms. Especially important is your history of hepatitis
risk factors such as IV drug abuse.
Your provider will examine your skin and eyes for
signs of hepatitis. Your provider will check your abdomen to see if the
liver is enlarged or tender.
You will have blood tests. If blood tests show
that your liver is not working normally, your provider will do tests to
see if you are infected with the hepatitis B virus.
If your provider thinks you may have chronic hepatitis
or serious liver damage, or if the diagnosis is uncertain, you may have
a liver biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure in which a needle is used to remove
a small amount of tissue. This is done through the skin over the liver
after the area is numbed with an anesthetic. The sample of tissue is sent
to a lab for tests to check for damage to your liver.
How is it treated?
The usual treatment is rest. In addition, your
health care provider will recommend that you avoid alcohol for at least
6 months. Usually it is not necessary to stay at the hospital. If you become
severely dehydrated from nausea and vomiting, you may need to go to the
hospital to receive intravenous (IV) fluids.
If you develop chronic hepatitis B, you may need
treatment with medicines. The types of drugs used are interferon and other
How long do the effects last?
The symptoms generally last several weeks and are
usually followed by a slow but complete recovery. It may take 6 months
before tests of your liver show that it is working normally again.
Some people who have hepatitis B develop the chronic
form of the disease. This means the virus continues to affect their liver
for several months. The continued inflammation can damage the liver, resulting
in cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and possible liver failure. Your health
care provider may check your blood every few months for signs of chronic
Infection with the hepatitis B virus increases
your risk for liver cancer.
How can I take care of myself?
- Follow your health care provider's instructions
for taking medicine to relieve your symptoms. When you have hepatitis,
you need to avoid taking certain medicines (for example, acetaminophen).
Ask your provider which medicines you can safely take for your symptoms
(such as itching and nausea).
- Follow your provider's advice for how much
rest you need and when you can return to your normal activities, including
work or school. As your symptoms improve, you may gradually increase
your level of activity. It is best to avoid too much physical exertion
until your provider tells you it is OK.
- Eat small, high-protein, high-calorie meals,
even when you feel nauseated. Sipping soft drinks or juices and sucking
on hard candy may help you feel less nauseated.
- Do not drink alcohol unless your provider
says it is safe.
What can be done to help prevent the spread of hepatitis
Hepatitis B is highly contagious for 2 to 6 weeks
before symptoms appear. It continues to be contagious for some time after
you start having symptoms. After you have been diagnosed, your health care
provider will want to see you for a follow-up. Your provider may test your
blood to see if you are still contagious. Some people who get hepatitis
B become chronic carriers of the virus. A blood test can determine whether
you are a chronic carrier.
To avoid spreading the disease to others:
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with
soap and very warm water, especially after you use the restroom and before
you eat or prepare food. Bathe often.
- Do not allow your body fluids, including
saliva, to contact others.
- Do not share food or drink with others.
- Clean any blood stains with a disinfectant.
- Do not share needles, toothbrushes, or
razor blades with others.
- Avoid sexual contact with others until
your provider tells you that you are no longer contagious.
- Do not donate blood
Three shots of a hepatitis B vaccine can prevent
infection with the hepatitis B virus. The second shot is given 1 month
after the first shot. The third shot is given 6 months after the first
People in the following categories have a high
risk of getting hepatitis B and should get shots of the hepatitis B vaccine:
- Health care workers
- Public safety workers who work with drug
- Volunteers and employees at homeless shelters
- Sexual partners of people who carry the
- Male homosexual
In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics
and the American Academy of Family Physicians now recommend that all children
get hepatitis B shots. As the cost of the shots decreases, more people,
especially teenagers and young adults, are also being encouraged to get
the shot to prevent sexually transmitted hepatitis B. Ask your health care
provider if you should be immunized against hepatitis B.
Related Topics: Epididymitis, Genital Herpes, Hepatitis C, HIV, HIV-2, HIV Recent Exposure, HIV-2 Recent Ex
posure, STD Testing, STD Testing for Recent Exposure, Syphillis, Urethritis, Vaginitis, Viral Hepatitis.
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