Hepatitis B, also called Hep B or HBV, has extremely variable symptoms. Some common Hep B symptoms include yellowing of the eyes, abdominal pain, and dark urine. Occasionally, a patient may not experience any symptoms at all. This is most common among children.
Long-term Hepatitis B can cause severe damage to the liver. Liver scarring (cirrhosis) is a major risk. Liver scarring follows a lengthy period of liver inflammation. In the most severe cases, liver failure can ultimately result. Patients have an increased risk of liver cancer.
Hepatitis B often clears up on its own and may not require medical intervention. In the most serious cases, patients can benefit from antiviral medication. Hepatitis B is responsible for about 887,000 deaths worldwide each year, only a fraction of them taking place in the United States.
With appropriate treatment and medical supervision, many Hepatitis B suffers do not experience loss of quality of life from Hepatitis B. However, they must be careful not to transmit the disease through infected fluids, including blood, urine, and respiratory fluids.
When undergoing treatment for Hepatitis B, it is important to minimize strain on the liver. This means eliminating alcohol intake for the duration of treatment. Ideally, a Hepatitis B infection runs its course with minimal organ damage, allowing the patient to resume all normal activities.
The last few years have seen new treatments for Hepatitis B, including novel applications of drugs intended for other diseases. Now, Hepatitis B patients and their loved ones have the opportunity to support medical research into Hepatitis B that could ultimately end this disease. Volunteering for clinical trials is a step you can take to support a healthier future for everyone.