How Do You Get Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is usually spread through:12
- Birth to a mother who has hepatitis B
- Sharing or reusing needles, syringes, and drug preparation equipment such as cookers and cotton when injecting drugs. Hands or drug preparation equipment that have even tiny amounts of blood on them can spread hepatitis B.
- Accidental needle stick or other sharp instrument injury
A less common way to spread hepatitis B is through pre-chewed food to a baby from a mother who has hepatitis B.12 However, hepatitis B cannot be spread through breastfeeding.
How Can I Get Free Or Low
The hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines are covered under most insurance plans.
- If you have insurance, check with your insurance provider to find out whats included in your plan.
- Medicare Part B covers hepatitis B vaccines for people at risk.
- If you have Medicaid, the benefits covered are different in each state. Check with your state’s program.
Find a clinic near you where you can get vaccines for hepatitis A and B.
History And Physical Exam
To diagnose all forms of hepatitis, your doctor will first take your history to determine any risk factors you may have.
During a physical examination, your doctor may press down gently on your abdomen to see if thereâs pain or tenderness. Your doctor may also check for any swelling of the liver and any yellow discoloration in your eyes or skin.
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Key Points About Hepatitis In Children
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It can damage and destroy liver cells.
Hepatitis in children can be caused by many things. Your child can get hepatitis by being exposed to a virus that causes it.
There are 5 main types of the hepatitis virus: A, B, C, D, and E.
The most common symptoms of hepatitis include a yellowish color to the skin and whites of the eyes and flu-like symptoms.
Some children don’t have any symptoms.
Getting vaccinated and having good hygiene can prevent hepatitis.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Been Exposed To Viral Hepatitis
- If you may have been exposed to hepatitis A or B, your doctor may recommend getting a vaccine to keep you from getting the infection.22,23
- The CDC recommends that people who are exposed to hepatitis C, such as a health care worker after an accidental needle stick, get tested for hepatitis C infection.18 New antiviral medicines for hepatitis C cure most of the people who take them. If you have health insurance, ask about your copay and coinsurance and which medicines are covered under your plan.
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Sexual Transmission And Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B can be transmitted through sexual activity. Unvaccinated adults who have multiple sex partners, along with sex partners of people with chronic hepatitis B infection, are at increased risk for transmission. Injection-drug use and sexual contact are other common modes of hepatitis B transmission in the United States.
Among adults seeking treatment in STD clinics, as many as 10%40% have evidence of past or current hepatitis B virus infection. Many of these infections could have been prevented through universal vaccination during delivery of STD prevention or treatment services. Offering vaccination to all adults as part of routine prevention services in STD treatment facilities has been demonstrated to increase vaccination coverage among adults at risk for hepatitis B infection, as the behavioral risk factors for STDs and hepatitis B are similar.
How Serious Is It
- People can be sick for a few weeks to a few months
- Most recover with no lasting liver damage
- Although very rare, death can occur
- 15%25% of chronically infected people develop chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer
- More than 50% of people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection
- 5%-25% of people with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis over 1020 years
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Can You Get Hep C From Recreational Drug Use
The main way hepatitis C is spread is blood-to-blood, says Rena Fox, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and an internist and hepatitis specialist at UCSF Health. So any activity where you might come in contact with another persons blood, like sharing needles, puts you at risk.
In fact, sharing needles and syringes is the most common way hepatitis C is spread, says Dr. Fox. We started seeing the number of new cases per year rise again about four or five years ago, along with an increase in heroin use with the opioid epidemic, she says. If people become addicted to prescription opiates, but then lose access to them, she explains, they may turn to heroin which often involves sharing needles.
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If I Have Hepatitis How Can I Avoid Giving It To Someone Else
If you have hepatitis B and C, you need to find ways to keep others from making contact with your blood. Follow these tips:
- Cover your cuts or blisters.
- Carefully throw away used bandages, tissues, tampons, and sanitary napkins.
- Dont share your razor, nail clippers, or toothbrush.
- If your blood gets on objects, clean them with household bleach and water.
- Dont breastfeed if your nipples are cracked or bleeding.
- Dont donate blood, organs, or sperm.
- If you inject drugs, dont share needles or other equipment.
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How Is Hepatitis B Transmitted
Hepatitis B is spread in several distinct ways: sexual contact sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment or from mother-to-child at birth.
In the United States, in 2018, injection drug use was the most common risk factor reported among people with an acute HBV infection, followed by having multiple sex partners. Less commonly reported risk factors included accidental needle sticks, surgery, transfusions, and household contact with a person with HBV infection. In the United States, healthcare-related transmission of HBV is rare.
Mother-to-child transmission of HBV is especially concerning, because it is preventable. An estimated 25,000 infants are born to mothers diagnosed with HBV each year in the United States, and approximately 1,000 mothers transmit HBV to their infants. Without appropriate medical care and vaccinations, 90% of HBV-infected newborns will develop chronic infection, remaining infected throughout their lives. Up to 25% of people infected at birth will die prematurely of HBV-related causes. For this reason, the standard of care for pregnant women includes an HBV test during each pregnancy so that the appropriate steps can be taken to prevent HBV-positive mothers from transmitting the disease to her infant.
Hepatitis A: How Does It Spread
It usually spreads through food or water. Food can be tainted when its touched by a person with hepatitis who did not wash their hands after using the bathroom. This transfers tiny amounts of infected stool to the food. Raw shellfish, fruits, vegetables, and undercooked foods are common culprits in hepatitis A outbreaks. The virus can also spread in daycare centers if employees arent careful about washing hands after changing diapers.
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Can I Breastfeed My Baby If I Have Viral Hepatitis
Yes, you can breastfeed your baby if you have viral hepatitis. You cannot pass viral hepatitis through breastmilk.
But, if you have hepatitis C and your nipple or the surrounding skin is cracked or bleeding, stop nursing your baby on that breast until the sores heal. You can pump or hand-express your milk from that breast until it heals. Throw any breastmilk from that breast away, because it might have been contaminated with hepatitis C from the cracked or bleeding skin.
Pumping the breast that is cracked or bleeding will help keep up your milk supply and prevent the breast from getting overly full and painful. You can feed your baby your milk from your healthy breast.24
Symptoms Of Acute Viral Hepatitis
Acute viral hepatitis can cause anything from a minor flu-like illness to fatal liver failure Liver Failure Liver failure is severe deterioration in liver function. Liver failure is caused by a disorder or substance that damages the liver. Most people have jaundice , feel tired… read more . Sometimes there are no symptoms. The severity of symptoms and speed of recovery vary considerably, depending on the particular virus and on the person’s response to the infection. Hepatitis A and C often cause very mild symptoms or none at all and may be unnoticed. Hepatitis B and E are more likely to produce severe symptoms. Infection with both hepatitis B and D may make the symptoms of hepatitis B even more severe.
Symptoms of acute viral hepatitis usually begin suddenly. They include
A poor appetite
A general feeling of illness
Nausea and vomiting
Pain in the upper right part of the abdomen
In people who smoke, a distaste for cigarettes is a typical symptom. Occasionally, especially with hepatitis B, infected people develop joint pains and itchy red hives on the skin from mast cells in the skin, which cause fluid to leak out of small… read more ).
Appetite usually returns about a week after symptoms begin.
People with acute viral hepatitis usually recover in 4 to 8 weeks, even without treatment. However, some people infected with hepatitis B or C develop chronic infections.
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General Tips For Prevention
Refrain from engaging in IV drug use and be cautious with all procedures that involve needles.
For example, you shouldnt share needles used for tattooing, piercing, or acupuncture. The equipment should always be carefully sterilized for safety. If youre undergoing any of these procedures in another country, always make sure the equipment is sterilized.
Sterile equipment should also be used in a medical or dental setting.
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Who Can Be Treated For Hepatitis C
Treatment decisions should be made by both you and your provider. Current treatments for hepatitis C are very successful and can cure most people of the virus.
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How Is Hepatitis A Infection Prevented
- The hepatitis A vaccine offers excellent protection against HAV. The vaccine is safe and highly effective. Vaccination consists of 2 doses of vaccine spaced 6-12 months apart. Protection starts 1-2 weeks after the first dose of vaccine, and lasts for 20 years to life after 2 doses.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children should receive hepatitis A vaccine starting at 1 year of age .
- The CDC recommends hepatitis A vaccine for all persons traveling to countries where HAV is common . For infants that will be traveling internationally, an early dose of Hepatitis A vaccine can be given at age 6-11 months.
- People who have hepatitis A infection become immune to HAV for the rest of their lives once they recover. They cannot get hepatitis A twice.
- The blood test for immunity to hepatitis A is called the Hepatitis A Total Antibody test. People who have had hepatitis A and those who have received hepatitis A vaccine show positive antibodies to hepatitis A on this test for the rest of their life.
- Good personal hygiene and proper sanitation help prevent the spread of the HAV virus. Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing, serving, or eating food.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill the hepatitis A virus
After Exposure to HAV
Who Is Most Affected
In the United States, rates of new HBV infections are highest among adults aged 30-59 years, reflecting low hepatitis B vaccination coverage among adults at risk. The most common risk factor among people with new HBV infections is injecting drugs, related to the opioid crisis and other drug use.
The highest rates of chronic hepatitis B infection in the United States occur among foreign-born individuals, especially people born in Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Africa. Approximately 70% of cases in the United States are among people who were born outside of the United States. CDC developed this map of the geographic distribution of hepatitis B around the world – PDF. Other groups who have higher rates of chronic HBV infection include people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men.
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Do I Need To Get Tested For Hepatitis B
Maybe. All pregnant women need to be tested for hepatitis B during their first trimester of pregnancy. Also, about half the people with hepatitis B have symptoms after infection.15 This means you might have the infection without knowing it.
- You were born in an area with medium or high rates of hepatitis B infection. Those areas are colored medium and dark blue on this map of hepatitis B around the world from the CDC.
- Your parents were born in one of the high-risk areas, and you were not vaccinated against hepatitis B as a baby
- You live with, have sex with, or share needles with someone who has hepatitis B
- You have ever had sex with more than one partner and did not use a condom
- You inject drugs
What Are Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C
Although hep A is a short-term illness that goes away completely, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can turn into serious long-term illnesses for some people. Teens and young adults are most at risk for getting these two viruses.
Hep B and C get passed from person to person the same ways that HIV does through direct contact with infected body fluids. Sometimes moms with hep B or C pass the virus to their babies when they’re born. Hep B and C also can get passed in ways you might not expect such as getting a manicure or pedicure with unsterilized nail clippers or other dirty instruments. Getting a tattoo, if dirty needles are used, is another way someone can get hep B or C.
Today, all babies get vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus in a series of 3 shots over a 6-month period. Doctors also recommend “catch-up” vaccination for all kids and teens younger than 19 years old who didn’t get the vaccine as babies or didn’t get all 3 doses.
There’s no vaccine for hep C yet.
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Hepatitis C Symptoms In Men
Hepatitis C symptoms in men are the same as in women. However, a 2014 study indicated that men may be less likely to clear the virus than women.
Hepatitis C in men may stay in their systems longer. It may also be more likely to cause symptoms in men compared to younger women.
Currently, there isnt a hepatitis C vaccine, though research is underway. However, avoiding contact with the blood of someone who has an HCV infection can help prevent you from acquiring the hepatitis C virus.
You can do this by:
- avoiding using someone elses razor, nail clippers, or toothbrush
- not sharing needles or syringes
- getting tattoos or piercings only at licensed facilities
- practicing safer sex with your partner by using condoms or other barrier methods
If you think you may have been exposed to HCV, its important to get tested as soon as possible.
Some people with hepatitis C may need a liver transplant.
If you believe you contracted HCV, the sooner you receive a hepatitis C diagnosis, the sooner your doctor can start a treatment plan to help you avoid complications.
Does Hepatitis B Ever Go Away
In most cases, hepatitis B goes away on its own. You can relieve your symptoms at home by resting, eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Also, find out from your doctor what medicines and herbal products to avoid, because some can make liver damage caused by hepatitis B worse.
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I Have Viral Hepatitis And Am Pregnant Will My Baby Get The Virus
Maybe. Hepatitis B and C can be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby during childbirth.
If you have hepatitis B, the risk of passing the infection to your baby is higher than if you have hepatitis C. Make sure your baby gets HBIG and the first shot of hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth. Your baby will need two or three more shots of the vaccine over the next 1 to 15 months to help keep them from getting hepatitis B. The timing and total number of shots will depend on the type of vaccine and your babys age and weight. All babies should be vaccinated for hepatitis B. Talk to your doctor.
The hepatitis B vaccine is very important. Babies who become infected with hepatitis B have a 90% chance of developing chronic hepatitis B. One in four people infected at birth will die of hepatitis B-related causes such as liver cancer or liver failure. Your doctor will test your baby after the last shot to make sure he or she is protected from the disease.
- If you have hepatitis C, the risk of passing the virus to your baby is believed to be low, but it is still possible. The only way to know if your baby becomes infected is by doing a test. The CDC recommends testing a child after he or she turns 18 months old. Most infants infected with hepatitis C at birth have no symptoms and do well during childhood.17