Hepatitis is a condition that is characterized by the inflammation of the liver that could be the result of an infection, an exposure to alcohol, medications or poisons as well as a disorder that affects the immune system. The condition is caused by the hepatitis B virus and can occur as an acute or chronic condition. In the acute version, hepatitis B infection will occur shortly after an exposure to the virus and a small number of individuals may develop a life threatening form of hepatitis – known as fulminant hepatitis. When affected by chronic hepatitis B, the condition is likely to last longer than six months and may even never completely go away. Studies have shown that about 90 to 95% of people that are infected are able to fight the condition while it is still in its developmental phase - thereby preventing it from becoming chronic. Since hepatitis directly affects the liver, a number of important body functions could be interrupted. Some of these functions include the removal of toxins from the body and blood, the storage of energy, minerals and nutrients as well as the absorption of certain nutrients from food can all be severely affected. The condition is known to be one of the most common liver conditions experienced all over the world and causes the death of about 250,000 people every year. While the condition can affect any individual, some people are at a higher risk of contraction than others. Some of the factors include being birthed by a mother that had hepatitis B, living or frequently coming in close contact with someone that has the condition and being exposed to blood or bodily fluids at your place of work. Having sexual intercourse with an infected person as well as getting a tattoo with an unsterilized needle are known to be common causes of the condition.
Antibodies are proteins produced by the body to fight off the infections and the presence of hepatitis B antigens indicates that you had been exposed to the condition at some point of time or are currently affected by it. The hepatitis B surface antigen is probably the earliest indicator of an active infection and if the antigen level were to remain high for more than a period of 6 months – you are likely to become a carrier of the condition. The antibody, or hepatitis B surface antibody, is likely to develop a few weeks after the condition has disappeared and will prevent your body from contracting the condition ever again. The presence of these antibodies indicates that you are either currently or had previously been affected by the condition.
The tests are usually conducted on a blood sample taken at a doctor’s office or local hospital.