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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B Early Diagnosis And Risk Factor Screening In Teenagers

3 Min Read

Posted By HealthcareOnTime Team Posted on 2023-03-29 Updated on 2023-06-26
Hepatitis B In Adolescents: Diagnosis And Risk Factor Screening

What is Chronic Hepatitis B

Chronic hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which is transmitted through blood and body fluids. In some cases, the immune system can clear the virus within a few months of infection. However, in other cases, the virus persists in the body and causes chronic hepatitis B.

Chronic hepatitis B can lead to serious liver problems, including liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is estimated that around 257 million people worldwide have chronic hepatitis B, with the highest prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia.

Symptoms of chronic hepatitis B can vary from mild to severe and may include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, and nausea. However, many people with chronic hepatitis B do not have any symptoms and may not know they are infected.

Chronic hepatitis B is often asymptomatic, meaning that many people may not experience any symptoms for years, even decades, after being infected. 

However, some common symptoms of chronic hepatitis B in teenagers include:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

If left untreated, chronic hepatitis B can lead to serious liver damage and even liver cancer. It is important to note that chronic hepatitis B is different from acute hepatitis B, which typically resolves on its own without causing long-term liver damage.

Preventing chronic hepatitis B includes getting hepatitis b vaccination, practicing safe sex, avoiding sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia, and taking precautions to prevent transmission in healthcare settings. It is also important for people with chronic hepatitis B to avoid alcohol and maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of liver damage. With proper management, people with chronic hepatitis B can live long and healthy lives.

How is Chronic Hepatitis B Different from Acute Hepatitis B?

The main difference between acute and chronic hepatitis B is the duration of the infection. While chronic hepatitis B is a long-term infection (lasting longer than six months), acute hepatitis B is a short-term infection (generally lasting for several weeks) that the body can typically clear on its own. If left untreated, however, chronic hepatitis B can cause serious problems.

Early Detection of Chronic Hepatitis B in Adolescents: Why is it Important?

Vulnerability of Developing Hepatitis B 

Certain risk factors increase an individual's chances of developing chronic hepatitis B. These include:

  • Being born to a mother with chronic hepatitis B
  • Being a healthcare worker with frequent exposure to blood or bodily fluids
  • Having unprotected sex with someone who is infected with hepatitis B
  • Sharing needles, razors, or other personal items that may contain infected blood
  • Having a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS or other medical conditions
  • Living in or traveling to areas with high rates of hepatitis B infection, such as sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia

It is important to note that not everyone with these risk factors will develop chronic hepatitis B. However, individuals with these risk factors should be aware of their increased risk and take steps to prevent infection, and get tested regularly.

How Does Early Diagnosis and Treatment for Chronic Hepatitis B Benefits Teenagers?

Early detection and treatment of chronic hepatitis B can have various advantages, including:

  • Decreased risk of liver damage: Early diagnosis and treatment can help avoid or reduce the risk of liver damage, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, which can develop over time in persons with chronic hepatitis B.
  • Preventing transmission: Individuals with chronic hepatitis B can unknowingly spread the infection to others. Early detection and treatment can help prevent the virus from spreading to family members, sexual partners, and others.
  • Improved long-term outcomes: Early treatment of chronic hepatitis B has been found to improve long-term outcomes and lessen the need for liver transplantation.
  • Increased quality of life: Chronic hepatitis B can significantly reduce a person's quality of life. Early diagnosis and treatment can aid in the management of symptoms and the prevention of illness development, ultimately improving quality of life.
  • Cost-efficient: Early detection and treatment of chronic hepatitis B can save money by avoiding the need for more expensive treatments like liver transplantation and lowering the likelihood of complications that necessitate hospitalization.

How Does Chronic Hepatitis B Impact Adolescents' Liver & Overall Health?

Chronic hepatitis B can have the following effects on the liver and general health:

  • Liver Inflammation: Persistent hepatitis B can induce inflammation in the liver, which can eventually lead to scarring and cirrhosis. This can cause the liver to stiffen and lose its capacity to operate normally, resulting in a variety of symptoms and consequences.
  • Liver Cancer Risk: Chronic hepatitis B can increase the chance of developing liver cancer over time. Those with cirrhosis or those who have been infected with the virus for a long time are at a higher risk.
  • Liver Damage: Chronic hepatitis B can damage liver cells, leading to a decline in liver function over time. Symptoms include weariness, stomach pain, and jaundice.
  • Immune System Impairment: Chronic hepatitis B can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off other diseases.
  • Mental Health: Chronic hepatitis B can affect a person's mental health, producing stress, anxiety, and despair.
  • Fatigue: Chronic hepatitis B can produce weariness, impairing a person's ability to work, socialize, and participate in daily activities.
  • Sexual Health: Chronic hepatitis B can be transferred through sexual contact, affecting a person's sexual health and relationships.

Understanding the Risk Factors for Chronic Hepatitis B in Teenagers

As mentioned earlier, certain risk factors can increase an individual's chances of developing chronic hepatitis B. These risk factors include lifestyle factors, family history and genetics, and other underlying health conditions.

  • Lifestyle Factors: Lifestyle factors such as heavy alcohol consumption and smoking can increase an individual's risk of developing chronic hepatitis B. Alcohol can cause liver damage, making it more susceptible to infections such as hepatitis B. Smoking has also been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer in individuals with chronic hepatitis B.
  • Family History and Genetics: Family history and genetics can play a role in an individual's risk of developing chronic hepatitis B. Individuals with a family history of chronic hepatitis B are more likely to develop the disease themselves. Additionally, certain genetic variations have been linked to an increased risk of chronic hepatitis B in some populations.
  • Other Underlying Health Conditions You Might Not Notice: Other underlying health conditions, such as HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections, can increase an individual's risk of developing chronic hepatitis B. These conditions can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infections.

Getting Tested for Chronic Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that can cause liver inflammation. The CDC advises screening all persons aged 18 and above for hepatitis B using a triple panel test at least once in their lifetime. Individuals with risk factors should be evaluated regardless of age. Hepatitis B is diagnosed using blood tests that detect the presence of the virus and its antibodies. If you test positive for chronic hepatitis B, your doctor may advise you to take antiviral medication. It is critical to get tested for hepatitis B to prevent the infection from spreading and to receive appropriate medical care if necessary.

Different Types of Tests for Testing Chronic Hepatitis B in Teenagers

The following 5  tests are recommended  for the diagnosis of chronic hepatitis B:

  • Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) test: HBsAg Test determines whether the hepatitis B virus is present in your blood.
  •  Hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc) test: Anti-HBc test detects antibodies to the hepatitis B virus's core antigen and can assist establish whether you have a past or current infection.
  • Hepatitis B surface antibody (anti-HBs) test: This test looks for antibodies to the hepatitis B virus, which may suggest that you have been immunized or that you have recovered from a past hepatitis B infection.
  • Test for Hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg): HBeAg Test detects the presence of the HBeAg protein, which is generated by the hepatitis B virus, suggesting a high level of viral replication in this test.
  • Hepatitis B viral load test: Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Qualitative PCR Test determines the amount of hepatitis B virus in your blood, which can aid in determining the severity of the infection and guiding treatment recommendations.

Why is Testing and Screening Vital for Chronic Hepatitis B in Adolescents

Chronic hepatitis B testing and screening are critical because they allow for early discovery and treatment of the virus. Chronic hepatitis B is a dangerous virus that, if left untreated, can cause liver damage, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

Some patients with chronic hepatitis B may not exhibit symptoms for many years, allowing them to inadvertently transfer the virus to others. This is why testing and screening are so important, particularly for people who are at a higher risk of catching the virus, such as those:

  • Those born in areas with a high prevalence of hepatitis B infection (Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Islands)
  • Those who have a history of injecting drugs or unprotected sex
  • Those who live with a chronic hepatitis B carrier
  • Those who have had medical procedures that required them to share needles or other medical equipment.

Testing and screening can also assist in identifying individuals who have been infected with hepatitis B but have not developed a chronic infection. These persons may still benefit from monitoring and follow-up care to avoid chronic hepatitis B and liver problems.

Hepatitis B Treatment 

Chronic hepatitis B treatment and management entail a combination of medicinal therapies, lifestyle changes, and constant monitoring by a healthcare specialist. The goal of treatment is to lower the risk of liver damage, prevent disease progression, and enhance the quality of life.

Treatment Options for Chronic Hepatitis B & How Effective Are They?

Chronic hepatitis B treatment options are determined by several criteria, including the severity of the infection, the stage of the disease, and the patient's overall health. The goals of treatment are to limit the risk of liver damage, prevent disease progression, and prevent the virus from spreading to others.

The most prevalent therapies for chronic hepatitis B are as follows:

  • Antiviral drugs: Antiviral medications such as tenofovir, entecavir, and lamivudine can inhibit hepatitis B virus replication and minimize the risk of liver damage. These treatments are often administered daily and can be beneficial in managing the virus in the majority of individuals.
  • Interferon therapy: It is a sort of immunotherapy that is used to enhance the body's immune system to combat the virus. It is often administered as a weekly injection and is beneficial in certain patients, particularly those with less severe illnesses.
  • Liver transplantation: It may be essential in severe cases of chronic hepatitis B. This entails removing the diseased liver and replacing it with a healthy donor liver.

The success of treatment for chronic hepatitis B varies based on various factors, including the patient's age, illness stage, and infection severity. Antiviral drugs have been demonstrated to be highly efficient in suppressing the virus and lowering the risk of liver damage. Interferon therapy is less effective and can have serious side effects. Liver transplantation is normally reserved for advanced cases of liver disease and can improve survival.

Conclusion

Early detection and risk factor screening for Hepatitis B in teenagers is critical for decreasing the disease's impact on the population. Because of their behavioral patterns, adolescents are at high risk of infection; consequently, routine screening and monitoring of those at high risk is critical. The screening criteria and guidelines offer healthcare providers a thorough foundation for identifying and managing the disease early. Clinical management of adolescents with Hepatitis B necessitates collaboration among healthcare practitioners, patients, and their families. Addressing the obstacles and opportunities for early detection and screening is also critical for improving healthcare outcomes. Overall, healthcare practitioners and governments should emphasize the deployment of effective screening measures and support public awareness campaigns to minimize the prevalence of cancer.

Tagged In: Hepatitis B Symptoms, Hepatitis B Treatment, Hepatitis B Causes, Chronic Hepatitis B

FAQs On Chronic Hepatitis B

Who is at risk for chronic hepatitis B?

Individuals with certain risk factors are at increased risk for chronic hepatitis B, including those born to a mother with chronic hepatitis B, healthcare workers with frequent exposure to blood or bodily fluids, individuals who have unprotected sex with someone who is infected with hepatitis B, and those who share needles, razors, or other personal items that may contain infected blood.

How can you detect Hep B early?

Early detection of hepatitis B can be done through a blood test called the HBsAg test. This test can detect the presence of the hepatitis B virus in the body, even if an individual is asymptomatic.

Is HBsAg positive in chronic hepatitis B?

Yes, a positive HBsAg test result can indicate chronic hepatitis B. However, additional testing may be needed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of liver damage and disease progression.

Is hepatitis B curable if detected early?

While there is no cure for hepatitis B, early detection and treatment can significantly improve an individual's long-term health outcomes. Treatment can slow or stop the virus from reproducing in the body, reducing the risk of liver damage and complications.

Is chronic hepatitis B genetic?

While chronic hepatitis B is not directly caused by genetics, certain genetic variations have been linked to an increased risk of the disease in some populations. Additionally, individuals with a family history of chronic hepatitis B are at increased risk of developing the disease themselves.

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