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How Do You Contact Hepatitis

History And Physical Exam

Ask the Pediatrician: Hepatitis A

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.

How Do People Get Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of people with HAV infection. It enters the body through the mouth after someone handles something contaminated with HAV, or eats or drinks something contaminated with HAV.

People usually get hepatitis A by having close contact with a person who is infected, from food or drinks prepared by someone who is infected, or by eating shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water. After the virus enters the body, there is an incubation period lasting 2 to 7 weeks until illness begins.

What Is The Treatment For Hepatitis

Each type of hepatitis is treated differently.

Hepatitis A often goes away on its own and home treatment is all that is needed to help the liver recover, such as:

  • Rest
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Avoiding certain medicines that can be harmful to the liver

Hepatitis B often goes away on its own in about 6 months, and can also be treated at home with the above remedies. Other treatments for hepatitis B include:

Treatment for hepatitis C is effective on certain forms of the hepatitis C virus. The choice of medications depends on the type of hepatitis C you have, whether you have been treated for the illness before, how much liver damage has occurred, any other underlying medical issues, and other medicines you take. Treatment for hepatitis C usually involves 8 to 12 weeks of oral antiviral medications, such as:

  • Elbasvir-grazoprevir
  • Sofosbuvir-velpatasvir-voxilaprevir

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Hepatitis A And B Vaccines

There are vaccines to protect against hepatitis A and B. The CDC recommends hepatitis A vaccination for all children ages 12 to 23 months and for adults who plan to travel or work in areas with hepatitis A outbreaks or who have other risk factors. People with chronic hepatitis B or C should also get the hepatitis A vaccine if they don’t already have immunity to the disease. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants at birth and for adults who have any of the risk factors we discussed earlier. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Common Symptoms Of Hepatitis

Symptoms and warning signs of Hepatitis C

If you are living with a chronic form of hepatitis, like hepatitis B and C, you may not show symptoms until the damage affects liver function. By contrast, people with acute hepatitis may present with symptoms shortly after contracting a hepatitis virus.

Common symptoms of infectious hepatitis include:

It is crucial to understand what is causing hepatitis in order to treat it correctly. Doctors will progress through a series of tests to accurately diagnose your condition.

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How Is Hepatitis A Virus Spread

Hepatitis A virus is usually spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A. Transmission typically occurs when someone with hepatitis A infection goes to the bathroom and does not wash their hands well afterwards so that tiny particles of stool containing the virus contaminate objects, food, or drinks and then can be spread to others. For this reason, the virus can spread in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or where good personal hygiene is not observed.

Most infections in the United States result from contact with a household member or sex partner who has hepatitis A. Hepatitis A virus can also be spread by consuming food or drink that has been handled by an infected person.

Treatment: Chronic Hepatitis B

The goal of treating chronic hepatitis B is to control the virus and keep it from damaging the liver. This begins with regular monitoring for signs of liver disease. Antiviral medications may help, but not everyone can take them or needs to be on medication. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of antiviral therapy with your doctor.

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What Is My Risk

Your risk depends of several factors: destination, length of stay, what you do when you are travelling and whether you have direct contact with blood or other body fluids. In certain destinations, your risk may be higher, as some areas have higher numbers of people with chronic hepatitis B in the general population.

The risk increases with certain activities, such as unprotected sex, sharing needles, tattooing and acupuncture.

Aid and health care workers and anyone who receives medical or dental care with unsterilized or contaminated equipment in a country where hepatitis B occurs are also at greater risk.

How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed

Do You Need to Get Screened for Hepatitis C?

There are three main ways to diagnose HBV infection. They include:

  • Blood tests: Tests of the blood serum shows how your bodys immune system is responding to the virus. A blood test can also tell you if you are immune to HBV.
  • Abdominal ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to show the size and shape of your liver and how well the blood flows through it.
  • Liver biopsy: A small sample of your liver tissue is removed though a tiny incision and sent to a lab for analysis.

The blood test that is used to diagnose hepatitis B is not a test that you get routinely during a medical visit. Often, people whove become infected first learn they have hepatitis B when they go to donate blood. Blood donations are routinely scanned for the infection.

The virus can be detected within 30 to 60 days of infection. About 70% of adults with hepatitis B develop symptoms, which tend to appear an average of 90 days after initial exposure to the virus.

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Can You Be A Blood Or Organ Donor

People with hepatitis C cant currently donate blood. The American Red Cross eligibility guidelines prohibit people who have ever tested positive for hepatitis C from donating blood, even if the infection never caused symptoms.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services , information on organ donation, those with underlying medical conditions shouldnt rule themselves out as organ donors. This reflects new guidelines for organ donation announced by the HHS.

People with HCV are now able to be organ donors. This is because advances in testing and medical technology can help the transplant team determine which organs or tissues can be safely used for transplantation.

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How Do You Know If You Have Hepatitis B

Signs and symptoms can vary, in particular by the age of the individual. Many individuals may not show symptoms . When symptoms develop, they include fever, joint pain, abdominal pain, fatigue, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, clay-coloured bowel movements, or jaundice.

Most infections are asymptomatic or mild. Occasionally, people with serious cases of hepatitis B require hospitalization. A very small proportion of these patients develop a critical form of the disease called âfulminantâ hepatitis B. This condition results from a sudden breakdown of liver function.

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What Should You Know About Hepatitis B Before You Travel

Hepatitis B is quite common in China and other Asian countries, where as many as 1 in 12 people have the virus, though many dont know it. Before traveling to those places, you should make sure youve been vaccinated against the virus.

In addition to getting the vaccine, you can take these additional precautions to reduce your risk of contracting the virus:

  • Refrain from taking illegal drugs.
  • Always use latex or polyurethane condoms during sex.
  • Make sure new, sterile needles are used during all piercings, tattoos and acupuncture sessions.
  • Avoid direct contact with blood and bodily fluids.
  • Know the HBV status of all your sexual partners.
  • Ask your doctor about possible vaccination before you travel to a place where hepatitis B is common.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Hepatitis B is a liver disease that can cause serious damage to your health. One reason that is dangerous is that it can easily go undetected for years while damaging your liver. Talk with your healthcare provider about being tested for hepatitis B if you have any reason to believe that you were not vaccinated or if you have engaged in risky behavior. If you do test positive, follow the directions from your healthcare provider so that you can live a longer, healthier and happier life.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/09/2020.

References

Keep Personal Items Personal

Hepatitis Help Prevention Foods Liver Diet Tips

Any tools or implements that may have a bit of blood on them from infected people are potential sources of hepatitis B or C transmission. Toothbrushes, nail clippers, razors, needles, and washcloths may all contain trace amounts of blood that can transmit infection. Keep personal items such as these to yourself and never use personal items that belong to others.

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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

What Is The Outlook For Hepatitis

Hepatitis A and E usually only cause short-term infections that your body can overcome. The others can also cause acute infections, but might also cause chronic infections. The chronic forms are more dangerous. Hepatitis non-E is usually acute, but can become chronic.

Most people recover fully from hepatitis even though it might take several months for the liver to heal. To help improve your health and to help speed up your recovery:

  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Practice good nutrition.
  • If you feel sick, rest.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about your medicines, even over-the-counter drugs or vitamins and supplements, to know which ones you should take and which to avoid until you are recovered.

With hepatitis, your healthcare provider will also be looking for long-term damage to the liver in the forms of cirrhosis or liver failure. You may be asked to take other types of tests, such as liver function tests, imaging tests or possibly a liver biopsy.

If you have questions, new symptoms, or worsening of any existing symptoms, you should call the office of your healthcare provider.

In the U.S., A, B and C are the most common viral forms of hepatitis. It doesnt matter how you were infectedwhat matters is taking care of yourself once you have been diagnosed and taking care not to spread the infection to anyone else.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/06/2020.

References

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Chronic Hepatitis B Infection

If you develop chronic hepatitis B, youll be given treatment to reduce the risk of permanent liver damage and liver cancer. Treatment does not cure chronic hepatitis B and most people who start treatment need to continue for life.

Without treatment, chronic hepatitis B can cause scarring of the liver , which can cause the liver to stop working properly.

A small number of people with cirrhosis develop liver cancer, and these complications can lead to death. Other than a liver transplant, there is no cure for cirrhosis. However, treatments can help relieve some of the symptoms.

Hepatitis C: Who Is At Risk

Questions answered about hepatitis A vaccine

People who have injected illegal drugs at any time, even one time, many years ago, could be walking around with chronic hepatitis C. Because there are often no symptoms, many former drug users may not realize they have the infection. People who received a blood transfusion before 1992 also have a higher risk. Before that year, donated blood was not screened for the hepatitis C virus.

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Symptoms Of Hepatitis C

Most people with hepatitis C don’t have any symptoms when they acquire the hepatitis C virus infection, however, about 1/4th of those infected will have symptoms like

  • abdominal pain,

    Infectious causes of hepatitis usually are, but not always, contagious. For example, hepatitis caused by viruses usually is contagious, although many types of hepatitis are transferred mainly from person to person by blood-to-blood transfer, for example, individual sharing needles, acupuncture, sexual contact, and organ transplantation.

    Some infectious parasites cause hepatitis in individuals, but are not contagious person to person.

    Most noninfectious causes of hepatitis are not contagious. Hepatitis caused by alcohol poisoning, medications, or toxins or poisons are not transmitted from person to person.

    Therefore, the answer to the question “Is hepatitis contagious?” depends upon the type of hepatitis.

    Who Should Get The Hepatitis B Vaccine

    All newborn babies should get vaccinated. You should also get the shot if you:

    • Come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of friends or family members
    • Use needles to take recreational drugs
    • Have sex with more than one person
    • Are a health care worker
    • Work in a day-care center, school, or jail

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    What Is The Treatment For Hepatitis B

    Prevention is recommended by receiving a vaccine for HBV.

    Receiving an injection of the hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours of coming in contact with the virus may help prevent the development of the disease.

    At present, there is no specific treatment for patients with acute hepatitis B. Acute infection is usually short and will often resolve on its own. Your health care provider may recommend rest, and adequate nutrition and fluids to help your body fight the infection. Hospitalization may be required for patients who suffer from severe vomiting and who are unable to maintain adequate nutritional levels. It may also be required to prevent the development of complications.

    While chronic infection cannot be cured, there are two standard treatments in Canada that may control the virus and prevent further damage to the liver.

    • Antiviral medications can fight the virus and slow damage to the liver.
    • Interferon which may be given for short periods and if effective, results in suppression of the virus.

    Hepatitis B In The United States

    What You Need to Know About Hepatitis C

    In the United States, about 862,000 people have chronic hepatitis B.6 Asian Americans and African Americans have higher rates of chronic hepatitis B than other U.S. racial and ethnic groups.10 Researchers estimate that about half of the people living with chronic hepatitis B in the United States are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.11 Chronic hepatitis B is also more common among people born in other countries than among those born in the United States.7

    The hepatitis B vaccine has been available since the 1980s and, in 1991, doctors began recommending that children in the United States receive the hepatitis B vaccine. The annual rate of acute hepatitis B infections went down 88.5 percent between 1982 and 2015.12 In 2017, the annual number of hepatitis B infections rose in some states.13 Experts think the rise was related to increases in injection drug use. Injection drug use increases the risk of hepatitis B infection.

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    Who Is Most At Risk Of Contracting Hepatitis C

    You have a high risk of contracting hepatitis C if you:

    • use or have used injection drugs even if it was just once or many years ago
    • have received blood or blood products or an organ transplant before July 1990 in Canada
    • have been in jail or
    • have been injected or scratched during vaccination, surgery, blood transfusion or a religious/ceremonial ritual in regions where hepatitis C is common.

    You have a high moderate risk of contracting hepatitis C if you:

    • have tattoos or body piercing
    • have multiple sexual partners
    • have a sexually transmitted infection , including HIV or lymphogranuloma venereum
    • have experienced traumatic sex or rough sex or have used sex toys or fisting that can tear body tissue
    • have vaginal sex during menstruation
    • have received a kidney treatment
    • have received an accidental injury from a needle or syringe
    • have another infectious disease
    • were born to a hepatitis C infected mother or
    • have a sexual partner infected with hepatitis C.

    Hepatitis C is NOT passed from person to person by:

    • coughing, sneezing
    • breastfeeding unless your nipples are cracked and bleeding or
    • oral sex, unless blood is present.

    Can Hepatitis C Be Treated

    Yes, since 2010 enormous progress has been made in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. New therapies called direct-acting antivirals are pills that act on the virus itself to eradicate it from the body, unlike older medicines like interferon injections which work by stimulating an immune response. These new treatments are very effective and can achieve cure rates of over 90%. In most situations now, there is no need for interferon, which was responsible for many of the side effects previously associated with HCV treatment. The new treatment combinations require shorter treatment durations , have reduced side effects and appear to be effective at all stages of the disease.

    Because these new therapies are very new, they remain very expensive. As such, drug coverage from both government and private companies may require that your liver disease has progressed to a certain stage before they are willing to cover the cost of these drugs.

    Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist to determine whether you are eligible for treatment. A specialist will help you decide which drug therapy is best for you based on the severity of your liver disease, your virus genotype and whether or not you have been treated in the past.

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