What is acute Hep B?
Once the virus has entered the body and become established as a viral infection, the disease is said to be in the ACUTE (short term) stage. This is generally considered to last for between one and six months. A positive HBSaG (Hepatitis B Surface Antigen) test is needed to confirm that you have an established viral infection.
The vast majority (95%) of people infected as adults will clear the Hepatitis B virus from their bodies naturally during the acute phase, meaning they will require no medical treatment. Usually people will be advised simply to get plenty of rest. If you clear the virus during the acute phase, inactive traces of the virus will remain present in your system which means that you are immune and not infected with the virus nor can you pass it on to others.
If you are unable to clear Hepatitis B and the virus remains detectable in your body (positive HBSaG test) after 6 months, you would generally be referred to as having a long term, chronic hepatitis B infection.
In some very rare cases, people with acute Hepatitis B infections may develop fulminant hepatitis which very quickly causes serious liver damage and can require a liver transplant in order to save their lives. Symptoms include mental confusion, swelling of the abdomen caused by build up of fluid and jaundice.
It also occurs in around 1 in 100 adults with chronic Hepatitis B but is much less common in children. Fulminant hepatitis is a medical emergency and 7 out of 10 people will die from it.