Hepatitis B: When to seek medical help?

By  , Expert Content
Apr 02, 2012

Hepatitis B is a common liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. It can be potentially life threatening and is one of the most serious types of viral hepatitis. It is a major global health problem which has affected an estimated two billion people and more than 350 million have chronic (long-term) liver infections.

Be alarmed if you notice some symptoms of  hepatitis B virus.

Consult a doctor if you have one or more of the following symptoms suggestive of liver disease:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fever (that lasts for more than a few days).
  • Feeling tired (fatigue) or exhausted.
  • Nausea and vomiting that does not go away in 1-2 days.
  • Itching or irritation all over the body.
  • Pain in abdomen (located over the liver that is on the right side of the abdomen, under the lower rib cage).
  • Jaundice (yellowish discolouration of skin and the whites of the eyes).
  • Dark coloured urine (the colour of cola or tea).
  • Pale stools (greyish or clay coloured).

These are some symptoms which may occur in a person with acute hepatitis B infection. However similar signs and symptoms can be caused by many other liver infections. Other causes of liver infection such as acute viral hepatitis due to hepatitis A and hepatitis C have symptoms that are indistinguishable from hepatitis B. Your doctor can conduct tests to confirm the cause of your symptoms and treat you accordingly. If blood tests show that you have hepatitis B, other tests may be needed to check if you have chronic hepatitis B.

Most people with hepatitis B have mild symptoms which can be treated at home but if the symptoms are severe, the person may need to be admitted in a hospital.

If you have hepatitis B infection, consult your doctor immediately or go to a hospital emergency department if you develop one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Mental changes such as confusion, lethargy, extreme sleepiness, stupor or hallucinations (hepatic encephalopathy).
  • Sudden collapse or loss of consciousness.
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue.
  • Confusion or difficulty in concentrating.
  • Headache.
  • Irritability.
  • Aggravating Jaundice.
  • Swelling of the abdomen (due to collection of fluid in the abdomen).
  • Severe nausea and vomiting.

These are some symptoms suggestive of a severe form of acute hepatitis known as fulminate hepatitis. It can be life-threatening if not treated without delay.



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