Symptoms Of Hepatitis B
Many people with hepatitis B will not experience any symptoms and may fight off the virus without realising they had it.
If symptoms do develop, they tend to happen 2 or 3 months after exposure to the hepatitis B virus.
Symptoms of hepatitis B include:
- flu-like symptoms, including tiredness, a fever, and general aches and pains
- loss of appetite
- tummy pain
- yellowing of the skin and eyes
These symptoms will usually pass within 1 to 3 months , although occasionally the infection can last for 6 months or more .
Reduce Your Chance Of Infection
You can reduce your chance of hepatitis B infection by
- not sharing drug needles or other drug materials
- wearing gloves if you have to touch another persons blood or open sores
- making sure your tattoo artist or body piercer uses sterile tools
- not sharing personal items, such as toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers
- using a latex or polyurethane condom during sex
How Do People Get The Hbv Virus
Hepatitis B virus is found in the blood of people with HBV infection. It enters the body through blood-to-blood contact.
Reliable blood tests for HBV were developed many years ago. Since blood donors and blood products are tested for HBV, this is no longer the typical means of infection.
In many parts of the world, hepatitis B virus infects more than 8% of the population. HBV-infected women pass the infection to their babies during the birth process. People can also get hepatitis B by sharing needles for injection drug use, through sexual contact with an infected person, by an accidental needlestick with a contaminated needle, or from improperly sterilized medical, acupuncture, piercing, or tattooing equipment.
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How Can I Prevent The Spread Of Hepatitis B Virus
The hepatitis B virus is spread by exposure to blood or body fluids from a person living with hepatitis B.
There are vaccines available to prevent HBV infection. The hepatitis B vaccine is provided free to babies as part of their routine childhood immunizations. For more information, see HealthLinkBC File #105 Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b Vaccine.
The vaccine is also provided free to those born in 1980 or later and to specific at-risk groups, such as sexual and household contacts of someone living with HBV and healthcare providers. For more information, see HealthLinkBC File #25a Hepatitis B Vaccine.
If you have been diagnosed with acute or chronic HBV infection, you can reduce the chance of passing this virus to others by doing the following:
Can Hepatitis B Be Prevented
The hepatitis B vaccine is one of the best ways to control the disease. It is safe, effective and widely available. More than one billion doses of the vaccine have been administered globally since 1982. The World Health Organization says the vaccine is 98-100% effective in guarding against the virus. Newborns should be vaccinated.
The disease has also been more widely prevented thanks to:
- Widespread global adoption of safe blood-handling practices. WHO says 97% of the blood donated around the world is now screened for HBV and other diseases.
- Safer blood injection practices, using clean needles.
- Safe-sex practices.
You can help prevent hepatitis B infections by:
- Practicing safe sex .
- Never sharing personal care items like toothbrushes or razors.
- Getting tattoos or piercings only at shops that employ safe hygiene practices.
- Not sharing needles to use drugs.
- Asking your healthcare provider for blood tests to determine if you have HBV or if you are immune.
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Can You Die From Hepatitis C
Complications from untreated hepatitis C, including cirrhosis and liver cancer, can be fatal, though HCV itself is rarely fatal.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , people who develop cirrhosis from HCV have a
more than half of people with an HCV infection will develop chronic hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis C is long term and can lead to permanent cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Chronic hepatitis C usually has no symptoms. People with chronic hepatitis C may not even know they have it. But once symptoms appear, it means that damage to the liver has already begun.
How Do I Get Hepatitis B Treatment
Usually for adults, hepatitis B goes away on its own and you wont need treatment. Your doctor might tell you to rest, eat well, and get plenty of fluids. You may also get medicines to help with any symptoms you might have but be sure to talk with your doctor or nurse before taking anything.
If you have chronic hepatitis, there are medicines you can take to treat it. Your doctor will tell you about your options and help you get whatever treatment you need.
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Reducing The Risk Of Hepatitis B
Simple steps that everyone can take to protect themselves against hepatitis B include:
- Making sure you and your children are immunised this is the best protection.
- Using condoms every time you have anal or vaginal sex with new partners until you both get a check-up .
- Avoiding oral sex if you or your partner have herpes, ulcers or bleeding gums it is unlikely that you will contract hepatitis through oral sex unless blood is present.
- Choosing to have any body piercing or tattooing done by an experienced practitioner who follows good sterilisation and hygiene practices, and who works at premises registered by the local council.
- Wearing single-use gloves if you give someone first aid or need to clean up blood or body fluids.
- Never sharing needles and syringes or other equipment , if you inject drugs. Always use sterile needles and syringes. These are available from needle and syringe programs and some pharmacists. Always wash your hands before and after injecting.
If you have hepatitis B:
If you think you have been exposed to hepatitis B, see a doctor immediately. Your doctor can give you treatment in some instances, which greatly reduces the risk of you becoming infected with hepatitis B.
Transmission Symptoms And Treatment
How is HBV transmitted?
HBV is transmitted through activities that involve percutaneous or mucosal contact with infectious blood or body fluids , including
- sex with an infected partner
- injection-drug use that involves sharing needles, syringes, or drug-preparation equipment
- birth to an infected mother
- contact with blood from or open sores on an infected person
- exposures to needle sticks or sharp instruments and
- sharing certain items with an infected person that can break the skin or mucous membranes , potentially resulting in exposure to blood.
How long does HBV survive outside the body?
HBV can survive outside the body and remains infectious for at least 7 days .
What should be used to clean environmental surfaces potentially contaminated with HBV?
Any blood spills should be disinfected using a 1:10 dilution of one part household bleach to 10 parts of water. Gloves should be worn when cleaning up any blood spills.
Who is at risk for HBV infection?
The following populations are at increased risk for becoming infected with HBV:
- Infants born to infected mothers
- Sex partners of infected people
- Men who have sex with men
- People who inject drugs
- Household contacts or sexual partners of known people with chronic HBV infection
- Health-care and public-safety workers at risk for occupational exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids
- Hemodialysis patients
Who should be screened for HBV?
CDC recommends that the following people be screened for HBV :
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Can You Get Hepatitis C From Kissing Or Sharing Eating Utensils
Hepatitis C passes between people through contact with infected blood. An uninfected person must encounter an infected persons blood in some way to get hepatitis C.
It cant be spread through kissing, holding hands, or hugging. Its also not spread through contact with food or beverage, so you cant contract hepatitis C by sharing eating utensils or a drinking glass with an infected person.
Is There A Cure For Chronic Hepatitis B
Currently, there is no complete cure for hepatitis B. But when managed properly, those living with the virus can expect to live a normal life. Maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are crucial components in managing the disease.
You should also visit a doctor familiar with hepatitis B at least annuallythough twice a year might be best to monitor your liver through blood tests and medical imaging. As with most diseases, detecting it early leads to a better outcome. If youre exposed to the virus, you should get an antibody injection within 12 hours of exposure.
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What Are The Types Of Hepatitis B
There are two types of hepatitis B infection: acute and chronic.
An acute infection happens at the beginning, when you first get infected with hepatitis B. Many people are able to clear it from their bodies and recover. In fact, this is true of about 4 in 5 adults who are infected.
If you are not able to clear the infection within six months or longer, you have chronic hepatitis B. It is chronic hepatitis B that leads to inflammation and the serious, and possibly fatal, illnesses of cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Treatment can slow disease progress, reduce the chance of liver cancer and increase your chances of surviving.
What Is Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that infects the liver. It is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases affecting travellers and can cause either acute or chronic infection.
About 90 to 95 percent of adults with acute hepatitis B infection will clear the virus on their own within six months, and develop lifelong protection against it.
Some people are unable to clear the virus, and develop chronic hepatitis B. Untreated chronic hepatitis B can later develop into serious health problems. Children under four years old are at particular risk of chronic hepatitis B, because only up to 10% will clear the virus.
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Who Is At Risk For Hepatitis B
Anyone can get hepatitis B, but the risk is higher in
- Infants born to mothers who have hepatitis B
- People who inject drugs or share needles, syringes, and other types of drug equipment
- Sex partners of people with hepatitis B, especially if they are not using latex or polyurethane condoms during sex
- Men who have sex with men
- People who live with someone who has hepatitis B, especially if they use the same razor, toothbrush, or nail clippers
- Health care and public-safety workers who are exposed to blood on the job
If you have chronic hepatitis B, you may not have symptoms until complications develop. This could be decades after you were infected. For this reason, hepatitis B screening is important, even if you have no symptoms. Screening means that you are tested for a disease even though you don’t have symptoms. If you are at high risk, your health care provider may suggest screening.
What Can I Do To Stay As Healthy As Possible If I Am Living With Hbv
- Avoid alcohol as it causes liver damage, and can increase liver damage caused by HBV
- It is important to manage your HBV infection and take good care of your health. HBV should not be a barrier to employment, school or other activities
- Get more information about HBV from your health care provider, local health unit, support groups, or the Canadian Liver Foundation at www.liver.ca
- See your health care provider regularly, usually about twice a year
- Check with your health care provider before taking any new medicines or vitamins, including over the counter and herbal medicines. Avoid ibuprofen
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Cases Of Hepatitis C In The United States
The CDC reports that in 2018, a total of 15,713 U.S. death certificates had hepatitis C as an underlying or contributing cause of death. This is likely lower than the actual numbers since so many infections go undocumented.
Studies show that baby boomers are more likely than other groups to have been exposed to HCV. Most of them contracted infections between 1970 and 1990 during a peak of new infections.
And since people with an HCV infection might not show symptoms, they may unknowingly transmit the virus to others.
Today, the most common risk factor for hepatitis C in the United States is injection drug use.
Since an HCV infection can show no symptoms, the number of new cases is likely higher than reported, according to the CDC.
Could I Get Hepatitis B
In Canada, hepatitis B is most commonly passed on during sex without a condom this includes vaginal intercourse and anal intercourse. Anyone who is sexually active, including people who experience sexual violence, can get hepatitis B this way.
Hepatitis B can also be passed on through:
- sharing equipment to use drugs
- sharing sex toys or during a hand job or fingering
Because the virus can survive outside the body for several days, hepatitis B can also be passed:
- between household members who share toothbrushes, razors or nail files
- via improperly sterilized tools for tattooing, body piercing, acupuncture or electrolysis
- among health professionals through improper handling of medical and dental equipment
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Managing Daily Life With Hepatitis
Hepatitis can cause profound health changes, but with the right approach, you can still live a normal, productive life. Here’s what our experts recommend.
Anybody who has lived with the symptoms of hepatitis knows its a condition to be taken seriously. Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver and, depending on the exact type of hepatitis you have, can result in flu-like symptoms or lead to more serious consequences like liver failure.
Beyond the physical symptoms of hepatitis, the condition can take its toll on you mentally as well. A person often feels ashamed and stigmatized when they are diagnosed with this disease, says Camilla Graham, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Mass. Patients are often reluctant to share the diagnosis with others, which can lead to feelings of isolation.
That said, there are ways to cope with a diagnosis of hepatitis so that you can live a better, healthier life.
Dealing With Hepatitis A and B
The good news about hepatitis A and B is that these conditions usually go away on their own within a few weeks with supportive care, says Kimberly Brown, MD, chief of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
While they are contagious, people with hepatitis A should remain secluded to avoid infecting others, adds Rashmi Gulati, MD, medical director of Patients Medical in New York. They will most likely need to stay home from work, school, and other activities.
What Treatments Are Available For Chronic Hepatitis B If Medications Dont Work
If you have advanced hepatitis B, you might also become a candidate for a liver transplant. This path does not always result in a cure because the virus continues in your bloodstream after a transplant. To prevent being infected again after your transplant, you may be prescribed hepatitis B immunoglobulin with an antiviral agent.
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Treatments For Hepatitis B
Treatment for hepatitis B depends on how long you have been infected for.
If you have been exposed to the virus in the past few days, emergency treatment can help stop you becoming infected.
If you have only had the infection for a few weeks or months , you may only need treatment to relieve your symptoms while your body fights off the infection.
If you have had the infection for more than 6 months , you may be offered treatment with medicines that can keep the virus under control and reduce the risk of liver damage.
Chronic hepatitis B often requires long-term or lifelong treatment and regular monitoring to check for any further liver problems.
Adults Living With Hepatitis B
If you test positive for the hepatitis B virus for longer than 6 months, this indicates that you have a chronic hepatitis B infection.
All patients with chronic hepatitis B infections, including children and adults, should be monitored regularly since they are at increased risk for developing cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer.
You should make an appointment with a hepatologist or gastroenterologist familiar with hepatitis B. This specialist will order blood tests and possibly a liver ultrasound to evaluate your hepatitis B status and the health of your liver. Your doctor will probably want to see you at least once or twice a year to monitor your hepatitis B and determine if you would benefit from treatment.
Not everyone who tests positive for hepatitis B will require medication. Depending on your test results, you and your doctor might decide to wait and monitor your condition. If your test results indicate that you would be a good candidate for treatment, then your doctor will discuss the current treatment options with you. Whether you start treatment or not, your doctor will want to see you every six months, or at minimum once every year.
Before you start any treatment, make sure you research each treatment option, and ask your doctor to thoroughly explain each option, so that you are well informed. It also might be a good idea to get a second opinion from another doctor before starting any treatment, because more information is always better!
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How Is Hepatitis B Prevented
Testing & Vaccination
- The hepatitis B vaccine offers excellent protection against HBV. The vaccine is safe and highly effective. Vaccination consists of 3 doses of vaccine over the course of 6 months. Protection lasts for 20 years to life.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children should receive hepatitis B vaccine starting at birth. .
- The CDC recommends hepatitis B vaccine for persons traveling to countries where HBV is common .
- If you have one or more risk factors for hepatitis B infection, you should get a simple HBV blood test. The blood test will determine whether you are:
- immune to hepatitis B or
- susceptible to hepatitis B and need vaccination or
- infected with hepatitis B and need further evaluation by a physician
- California law requires testing of all pregnant women for hepatitis B infection
- If the mother is HBV-infected, she will pass the infection to the baby during the birth process, unless the baby gets immunized within hours of birth
- Giving the infant HBIG and HBV vaccine right away will reliably prevent infection of the infant
- Other family members should best tested for hepatitis B too, and given vaccine if they are not already infected or immune
After Exposure to Hepatitis B