Statistically speaking 5-10% adults who are infected with Hepatitis B will develop into acute hepatitis or become carriers. This form of hepatitis is also spread by blood-to-blood contact or by sexual contact. It’s most commonly spread by sexual contact between partners and from an infected mother to her child during birth. Needle sharing are less common causes of infection. The virus can be spread by semen and vaginal fluid as well as blood.
Hepatitis B can either develop into acute Hepatitis, or it is able to convert from acute hepatitis to chronic hepatitis.
Before showing any symptoms, the infection may incubate for several months. This is a highly infectious period. The person could pass the infection to others unknowingly.
The average hepatitis B incubation period is 120 days, but it can range from 45 to 160 days.
The early symptoms and signs of hepatitis B are nonspecific and resemble those of a flu. These include mild fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, loss of appetite, distaste to cigarette, nausea and diarrhea. As the condition turns worse, the skin and the 'white' of the eyes will become yellow in color. At the same time, the urine also gets darker, almost tea-like. This is called “jaundice”.
A more common occurrence is chronic Hepatitis B. The infected person may not know he or she has the disease because there may not be any symptoms for years.
How do I find out if I am infected with Hepatitis B?
As hepatitis B share the common symptoms as the flu, therefore blood test is the only method to determine whether a person is infected with hepatitis B
There are also effective vaccines for hepatitis A and B available in Hong Kong. Since 1988, the Hong Kong government has started the universal neonate hepatitis B vaccination program. You should consult with your physician whether you can benefit from these vaccinations.
Currently, there is no definitive effective cure for hepatitis B, yet there is adopted medication to combat against hepatitis B virus. After the treatment, it’s possible to lower the level of virus below a detectable threshold.
Also, some studies have shown that some recovered acute or chronic hepatitis B patients will be immune to the virus for life. Hepatitis B carrier is a term used to describe those who have hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in the blood for more than 6 months yet there are no symptoms and are unaware of their status as Hepatitis B carrier. Physicians will carry out a series of investigations such as blood tests to ascertain the diagnosis and will recommend appropriate treatment regimen depending on the patient's condition.