After learning about Hepatitis B, its various phases, common symptoms and causes, we will be covering the diagnosis and the treatment options for this viral infection in this third part of our four-part series.
If you have been experiencing the symptoms commonly associated with Hepatitis B, or have been exposed to certain conditions that might have resulted in an infection, you should immediately undergo tests for diagnosing this viral infection.
The diagnostic process for Hepatitis B involves seeking one of the following three options.
- Studying The Markers Present In The Blood – Markers are certain chemicals produced by the Hepatitis B virus (antigens) and antibodies generated by the immune system to fight the infection. Hepatitis B virus has three antigens – the surface antigen (HBsAg), the core antigen (HBcAg) and the e antigen (HbeAg). Studying these markers help to diagnose whether the Hepatitis B infection is acute or chronic.
- Liver Biopsy – In this, a small sample is collected from the person’s liver tissue and is examined under the microscope. This is particularly useful for diagnosing the extent of damage to the liver due to cirrhosis. Liver Function Tests (LFTs) that analyze the enzymes in the liver may also be carried out for an acute diagnosis.
- Ultrasound Scan – This imaging test helps in determining liver damage and diagnosing chronic Hepatitis B. Blood tests and abdominal ultrasound can also confirm liver cancer, and all chronic Hepatitis B patients are usually screened for hepatocellular carcinoma
Once you have been diagnosed with Hepatitis B, you should get yourself tested for other forms of viral Hepatitis (A, C, D, E) and HIV since a combination of these viruses may affect treatment options and subsequent results.