What is the expected duration of Hepatitis B?

By  , Expert Content
Apr 02, 2012

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Hepatitis B is one of the most serious types of viral hepatitis which can be life-threatening. Infection with hepatitis B virus may cause acute or chronic hepatitis.

Expected duration of Hepatitis B

Incubation period of hepatitis B virus is about 90 days (ranges from 30 to 180 days). Hepatitis B virus may be detected by blood tests till 30 to 60 days after infection and persist for varying periods of time in each individual case.

Hepatitis B infection can be asymptomatic in about 50% of the infected cases. Hence the infected persons may never realise that they are actually infected. People who develop signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis usually do so within 1 to 4 months after exposure to the virus. Studies suggest that about 95% of adults who are infected with hepatitis B virus are able to get rid of the infection without treatment. The virus is deactivated and eliminated swiftly in many patients and they improve rapidly after acute hepatitis B. Some people may have a prolonged duration of the disease with very slow improvement over a period of several months.

Some patients are not able to deactivate the virus and go on to develop chronic hepatitis B. The course of chronic hepatitis B is variable and depends on several factors such as the patient's age at infection, the extent of viral load, and the immune system's ability to control the infection. The age at infection is a major factor which determines whether the infection will become chronic. Infection at a young age is more likely to become chronic.

Studies suggest that about 90% of children infected during the first year of their lives develop chronic infections and 30% to 50% of children infected when their age was between one to four years develop chronic infections. On the other hand, only about 10% of healthy adults develop chronic hepatitis. About 90% of healthy adults are able to completely eliminate the virus within six months. Chronic hepatitis B significantly increases the risk of developing cirrhosis of liver and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a severe form of liver cancer. According to studies, 25% of adults who were chronically infected during childhood die from HBV-related liver cancer or cirrhosis.



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