Dr Eric Wee, our Senior Consultant Gastroenterologist at Nobel Gastroenterology Centre spoke on liver disease and gastroenterolgy updates at a Future Leaders forum.
Here are some pertinent points on Hepatitis B which were discussed:
Hepatitis B virus causes liver disease. Adults may develop fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, pain in the right upper abdomen and jaundice. In some individuals, the infection resolves spontaneously (acute infection).
Sometimes, the virus may cause progressive liver damage leading to liver failure and cancer (chronic Hepatitis B), or persist in the liver without causing harm (Hepatitis B Carrier).
Hepatitis B is spread by blood and body fluids:
1. From a mother to baby at childbirth
2. At sexual intercourse
3. Blood transfusion from an infected source
4. Through body piercing with a contaminated needle
5. Sharing a toothbrush, razor with an infected person
It is not spread by kissing or sharing food.
How is Hepatitis B diagnosed and assessed?
Blood tests and a liver ultrasound scan will detect the virus, liver inflammation, liver cancer and cirrhosis. A FibroScan is used to assess the degree of liver injury.
Hepatitis B can be controlled with tablets, reducing the risk of cancer and cirrhosis. Medicines are given if the liver test is abnormal or if there is fibrosis/cirrhosis. Pregnant women with Hepatitis B can avoid infecting their baby by taking tablets, if needed.
When to see a Gastroenterologist (liver specialist)?
If you have jaundice, abdominal pain, abnormal liver tests/scan.