Clinical Pearl of the Day: Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
- For some people, HBV infection becomes chronic, meaning it lasts more than 6 months.
- Having chronic HBV increases the risk of developing liver failure, liver cancer, or cirrhosis—a condition that permanently scars of the liver.
- A vaccine can prevent HBV, but there's no cure for those with the condition.
- Symptoms may include abdominal pain, dark urine, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, weakness, and fatigue.
- Causes of HBV could be sexual contact, sharing of needles, accidental needle sticks, and transition from mother to child.
- Risk factors may include having unprotected sex, sharing needles during intravenous drug use, same gender sex, infant born to an infected mother, and environmental exposures.
- Diagnosis may include blood test, liver ultrasound, and liver biopsy.
- Treatment may include an injection of immunoglobulin (an antibody) given within 12 hours of exposure to the virus, which may help protect patients from getting sick with HBV.
- Other treatments may include antiviral medications such as entecavir (Baraclude), tenofovir (Viread), lamivudine (Epivir), adefovir (Hepsera) and telbivudine (Tyzeka). Interferon alfa-2b can also be used for treatment of this infection. Liver transplant may be an option as well for cases in which the liver has been severely damaged by the infection.