A hepatitis B titer measures the dilution of the antibodies for the hepatitis B virus against the amount of antibody needed to neutralize the antigen. The test is performed by drawing a blood sample and analyzing it in a lab. A hepatitis B titer can help determine whether sufficient antibodies against the illness are present in a given patient, or if further vaccination is required.
The term “hepatitis” refers to inflammation and swelling of the liver. It can have many potential causes, including damage from alcohol or other toxins, overuse of medications such as acetaminophen, or genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis. Hepatitis can also be caused by several different strains of viral infections.
Hepatitis B is a type of viral hepatitis that causes swelling and irritation of the liver. While most healthy people are able to fight off the infection and suffer no long-term damage, the virus can cause serious complications in those with compromised livers or a history of liver disease. When the body cannot fight off the virus, the hepatitis B infection becomes chronic.
Symptoms of chronic hepatic B include loss of appetite, tiredness, low-grade fever, muscle aches, and jaundice. In many cases, symptoms do not develop until up to six months after the initial infection. During this time, the virus can be transmitted to others. Hepatitis B transmits through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, through sexual contact, interaction with blood, and use of unclean needles through tattoos, acupuncture or drug use. The virus can also be passed on from mother to child during birth.
Several tests can be performed to diagnose and monitor a hepatitis B infection. The hepatitis B titer test can be used to determine if a person has ever suffered from a hepatitis B infection. The presence of antibodies in the solution indicates prior infection when there is no history of vaccination against the virus. Other tests include liver function tests and albumin level tests.
A hepatitis B titer can also be used to determine the effectiveness of a vaccine. Many countries have public health standards in place that require the vaccination of children against hepatitis B as part of the routine childhood vaccinations. Adults who live or work in high risk areas may also receive the vaccine. The hepatitis B titer is used to determine if the vaccine was effective at producing antibodies against the virus. Antibodies created by a vaccine and those generated by prior infection appear the same in a hepatitis B titer, so the test cannot be used to determine prior infection.