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University Medicine Cluster

Common Conditions:

 

 

Arthritis

High Blood Pressure

Asthma

High Cholesterol

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Lung Cancer

Dermatitis

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Gout

Pneumonia

Hepatitis B

Definition

Hepatitis means "inflammation of the liver".

 

Hepatitis B essentially means an infection with the virus Hepatitis B.

 

 

Hepatitis B virus size = 0.000 004cm

 

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Symptoms

The symptoms of hepatitis B infection may manifest differently during acute hepatitis and chronic hepatitis, and it may also vary among individuals.

 

Yet, most infected people may not exhibit any symptoms for many years.

 

However, the absence of symptoms does not necessarily mean that the infection is under control.

 

Symptoms of acute infection are:

  • Jaundice

  • Fever

  • Tiredness

 

Symptoms of significant liver damage may include:

  • Jaundice

  • A distended, fluid-filled abdomen (ascites)

  • Edema of the legs

  • Small, spider-like veins, usually on the chest and back (spider angiomas) 

  • Confusion

  • Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.

 

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Is this infection common?

There is an estimated 300 million carriers of the hepatitis B virus in the world, with over 500,000 dying annually from HBV-related liver disease.

 

In Singapore, the prevalence rate is about 5-8%.

 

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What are the complications of Hepatitis B?

The liver is susceptible to damage by the hepatitis B virus. The extent of the damage is variable as it relies upon the liver's ability to repair itself and the body's immune system to control the infection.

 

The complications of this infection include liver scarring (medically known as cirrhosis), liver cancer and liver failure.

 

All these complications are potentially life-threatening.

 

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Who is at risk of Hepatitis B infection?

  • Sexually active individuals with multiple sex partners
  • Gay and bisexual men
  • Household contacts with individuals with hepatitis B
  • Intravenous drugs user
  • Individuals undergoing Haemodialysis
  • Individuals with chronic liver disease
  • Healthcare workers

 

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How do I know if I have been infected with Hepatitis B?

The condition can be diagnosed with a blood test.

 

HBsAg blood test (Hepatitis B surface Antigen) positivity for at least 2 occasions mean chronic infection with Hepatitis B.

 

A negative HBsAg would either imply that the person does not have Hepatitis B infection or had cleared an infection with Hepatitis B previously.

 

 

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How do I prevent myself from being infected with Hepatitis B?

Vaccines that can effectively prevent infection are now available. Currently, newborns are routinely undergoing vaccination.

 

People who have never been infected by Hepatitis B can obtain immunity through vaccination. Those who are at risk of Hepatitis B infection are highly recommended to undergo vaccination.

 

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What should I do if I have Hepatitis B?

All persons with Hepatitis B should undergo regular medical follow-up. The purpose of which is to screen for liver cancer and any active liver inflammation. In general, most patients require a 6-monthly follow-up. During the follow-up, an ultrasound will help to detect any suspicious lesions of liver cancer. Early detection of liver cancer plays a vital role in effective cure.

 

Blood tests include liver function tests to detect any liver inflammation. Alpha fetoprotein is the blood marker for liver cancer. It can aid in the diagnosis of liver cancer.

 

Patients are advised to avoid alcohol and/or traditional medicines as these substances may cause additional liver damage.

 

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Doctors Listing

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Appointment and Enquiry

University Digestive Centre

Kent Ridge Wing Level 4

National University Hospital

 

Appointment Lines:
(65) 6772 2505 / (65) 6773 3380
Fax : (65) 6774 1075
Email:
udc@nuhs.edu.sg

 

Opening Hours: 8.30am - 5.00pm
Closed on Sat, Sun & Public Holiday

 

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