Who Are Hepatitis B Carriers
Hepatitis B carriers are people who have the hepatitis B virus in their blood, even though they dont feel sick. Between 6% and 10% of those people whove been infected with the virus will become carriers and can infect others without knowing it. There are over 250 million people in the world who are carriers of HBV, with about 10% to 15% of the total located in India. Children are at the highest risk of becoming carriers. About 9 in 10 babies infected at birth become HBV carriers, and about half of children who are infected between birth and age 5 carry the virus. A blood test can tell you if you are a hepatitis B carrier.
Can You Prevent Hepatitis
There are many ways to prevent hepatitis, from getting a vaccine to washing your hands well. But it all depends on what type you have. Here are some tips for preventing the three major kinds of this liver disease — hepatitis A, B, and C — and explanations of how one spreads in a different way.
How to prevent hepatitis A: You can get hepatitis A if you eat food or drink water that has the hepatitis A virus in it. You could also get infected if you’re in close physical contact with someone who has the disease or have sex with someone who has it.
The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get a vaccine. Kids should get a shot around their first birthday.
As an adult, you should get the shot if you:
- Travel to Africa, Asia , the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean
- Use recreational drugs
- Work in a day-care center, nursing home, or you’re a health care professional
- Are a man who has sex with men
- Have long-term liver disease
- Take blood products to treat hemophilia or other conditions
If you’re planning a trip to a place where there are outbreaks of hepatitis A, keep in mind that the vaccine only starts to work 2 to 4 weeks after you get it. And if you want long-term protection, you’ll need a follow-up shot 6 to 12 months later.
If you haven’t had a hepatitis B shot as an adult, it’s important to get it if you:
- Live with someone who has hepatitis B
- Travel to a country with outbreaks of hepatitis B
What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis
Some people with hepatitis do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If you do have symptoms, they may include:
- Joint pain
- Jaundice, yellowing of your skin and eyes
If you have an acute infection, your symptoms can start anywhere between 2 weeks to 6 months after you got infected. If you have a chronic infection, you may not have symptoms until many years later.
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Hepatitis A B And C: What Is The Difference
A, B, C D and E.
Aside from the letters associated with it, how much do you know about hepatitis? Whats the difference between the types? And if get a vaccination for hepatitis, which are you protected from?
We spoke with Moises Ilan Nevah, MD, a transplant hepatologist/gastroenterologist and medical director of the Liver Transplant Program at Banner University Medical Center Phoenix, to help better understand the similarities and differences between the various types of hepatitis, who is at risk and when to get vaccinated.
Three Types Of Hepatitis And What To Do About Them
Contact our practice at 410-224-4887 if you suspect you or a loved one has any form of hepatitis.
Hepatitis describes inflammation of your liver, the most common types being caused by one of several viruses. Hepatitis symptoms can make you sick for the short term or cause long-term, chronic liver problems.
When you have a form of hepatitis, it affects your livers ability to function. If your body cant clear the virus from your system, you may face long-term liver damage, liver failure, or liver cancer.
At Digestive Disorders Associates in Annapolis, Maryland, the expert team of board-certified gastroenterologists can help you recover from an acute form of hepatitis or manage your long-term infection.
Heres more about the most common forms of viral hepatitis and what you can do to heal.
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Hepatitis C Testing And Diagnosis
Doctors will start by checking your blood for:
Anti-HCV antibodies: These are proteins your body makes when it finds the hep C virus in your blood. They usually show up about 12 weeks after infection.
It usually takes a few days to a week to get results, though a rapid test is available in some places.
The results can be:
- That may mean you donât have hep C.
- If youâve been exposed in the last 6 months, youâll need to be retested.
If your antibody test is positive, youâll get this test:
HCV RNA: It measures the number of viral RNA particles in your blood. They usually show up 1-2 weeks after youâre infected.
- The results can be:
- Negative: You donât have hep C.
- Positive: You currently have hep C.
You might also get:
Liver function tests: They measure proteins and enzyme levels, which usually rise 7 to 8 weeks after youâre infected. As your liver gets damaged, enzymes leak into your bloodstream. But you can have normal enzyme levels and still have hepatitis C. Learn the reasons why you should get tested for hepatitis C.
How Is Hepatitis Treated
Someone who has hepatitis will need to drink enough fluids, eat healthy foods, and get rest. The person’s family members may need to get hepatitis vaccines, if they haven’t already.
Later on, the person will get follow-up blood tests. Often the blood tests will show that the person no longer has hepatitis. Sometimes, the blood tests may show that someone is now a carrier of hepatitis he or she won’t have hepatitis symptoms, but could pass the infection to other people.
Sometimes, blood tests will continue to show that some people still have hep B or C, which means they may have chronic hepatitis. If so, they will need to eat healthy foods and take very good care of themselves by getting rest and visiting the doctor regularly. In some cases, someone with chronic hepatitis may get special medicine for the condition.
We hope that this heads-up on hepatitis will help you stay safe. It may sound funny, but you can love your liver by washing your hands and making smart choices!
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The A B Cs Of Hepatitis
The hepatitis A virus causes acute inflammation of the liver that almost always gets better on its own, although it can be more serious if you get it when you are older or if you already have liver disease. It is easily spread from person to person, in food and water, and can infect many people at once. For example, if a food handler at a restaurant is infected with hepatitis A, those who eat food prepared by that handler may be infected. Hepatitis A can be prevented by getting vaccinated.
The hepatitis B virus can be both acute and chronic and is spread through blood or other body fluids in various ways. Hepatitis B is very common in Asia and Africa and those who were born or lived in these areas should be checked for hepatitis B. Like hepatitis A, a vaccine is available to prevent HBV infection as long as you have not been previously exposed. Although chronic HBV cannot be cured, there are oral medications available to treat and control the virus.
The hepatitis C virus is almost always chronic and spreads mostly by direct blood to blood contact. Although hepatitis A and B can be prevented by vaccination, hepatitis C cannot. However, there are currently oral medications available that are able to cure Hepatitis C in 95% of all cases regardless of prior treatment history.
What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Viral Hepatitis
The period of time between exposure to hepatitis and the onset of the illness is called the incubation period. The incubation period varies depending on the specific hepatitis virus. Hepatitis A virus has an incubation period of about 15 to 45 days Hepatitis B virus from 45 to 160 days, and Hepatitis C virus from about 2 weeks to 6 months.
Many patients infected with HAV, HBV, and HCV have few or no symptoms of illness. For those who do develop symptoms of viral hepatitis, the most common are flu-like symptoms including:
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How Is Viral Hepatitis Prevented
Prevention of hepatitis involves measures to avoid exposure to the viruses, using immunoglobulin in the event of exposure, and vaccines. Administration of immunoglobulin is called passive protection because antibodies from patients who have had viral hepatitis are given to the patient. Vaccination is called active protection because killed viruses or non-infectious components of viruses are given to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies.
Avoidance of exposure to viruses
Prevention of viral hepatitis, like any other illness, is preferable to reliance upon treatment. Taking precautions to prevent exposure to another individual’s blood , semen , and other bodily secretions and waste will help prevent the spread of all of these viruses.
Use of immunoglobulins
Immune serum globulin is human serum that contains antibodies to hepatitis A. ISG can be administered to prevent infection in individuals who have been exposed to hepatitis A. ISG works immediately upon administration, and the duration of protection is several months. ISG usually is given to travelers to regions of the world where there are high rates of hepatitis A infection and to close or household contacts of patients with hepatitis A infection. ISG is safe with few side effects.
Individuals at increased risk of acquiring hepatitis A are:
Some local health authorities or private companies may require hepatitis A vaccination for food handlers.
Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for:
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.
- Don’t share your razor, nail clippers, or toothbrush.
- If your blood gets on objects, clean them with household bleach and water.
- Don’t breastfeed if your nipples are cracked or bleeding.
- Don’t donate blood, organs, or sperm.
- If you inject drugs, don’t share needles or other equipment.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Getting Hepatitis B
Due to the way that hepatitis B spreads, people most at risk for getting infected include:
- Children whose mothers have been infected with hepatitis B.
- Children who have been adopted from countries with high rates of hepatitis B infection.
- People who have unprotected sex and/or have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection.
- People who live with or work in an institutional setting, such as prisons or group homes.
- Healthcare providers and first responders.
- People who share needles or syringes.
- People who live in close quarters with a person with chronic hepatitis B infection.
- People who are on dialysis.
How Common Is Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is fairly common in Africa and the western Pacific region. Throughout the world, there are about 292 million people who are infected with chronic hepatitis B. In the U.S., the figure exceeds 2 million people.
The number of infections had been falling in the U.S., but fewer vaccinations among adults combined with the onset of the opioid crisis and injected drug usage has resulted in the numbers rising again. Infected women can pass the infection on to their babies. Children who are infected before age 5 are more likely to have chronic infection than those infected later in life.
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How Do You Get Hepatitis A
The main way you get hepatitis A is when you eat or drink something that has the hep A virus in it. A lot of times this happens in a restaurant. If an infected worker there doesn’t wash their hands well after using the bathroom, and then touches food, they could pass the disease to you.
Food or drinks you buy at the supermarket can sometimes cause the disease, too. The ones most likely to get contaminated are:
- Ice and water
Another way you can get hep A is when you have sex with someone who has it.
How Is Viral Hepatitis Diagnosed
Diagnosis of viral hepatitis is based on symptoms and physical findings as well as blood tests for liver enzymes, viral antibodies, and viral genetic materials.
Symptoms and physical findings
Diagnosis of acute viral hepatitis often is easy, but the diagnosis of chronic hepatitis can be difficult. When a patient reports symptoms of fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, darkening of urine, and then develops jaundice, the diagnosis of acute viral hepatitis is likely and can be confirmed by blood tests. On the other hand, patients with chronic hepatitis due to HBV and HCV often have no symptoms or only mild nonspecific symptoms such as chronic fatigue. Typically, these patients do not have jaundice until the liver damage is far advanced. Therefore, these patients can remain undiagnosed for years to decades.
There are three types of blood tests for evaluating patients with hepatitis: liver enzymes, antibodies to the hepatitis viruses, and viral proteins or genetic material .
Liver enzymes: Among the most sensitive and widely used blood tests for evaluating patients with hepatitis are liver enzymes, called aminotransferases. They include aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase . These enzymes normally are contained within liver cells. If the liver is injured , the liver cells spill the enzymes into the blood, raising the enzyme levels in the blood and signaling that the liver is damaged.
Examples of tests for viral antibodies are:
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What Are The Types Of Hepatitis
There are many types of hepatitis which cause symptoms that range from mild to very serious.
Five types of viral hepatitis are:
- hepatitis A an illness that can last from a few weeks to 6 months
- hepatitis B a serious infection that can lead to liver damage
- hepatitis C a disease that is now easily treatable
- hepatitis D a disease that only affects people infected with hepatitis B, and is a rarer type of hepatitis in Australia
- hepatitis E a short-term illness that can be severe in pregnant women, but is rare in Australia
There are other types of hepatitis that are not infectious, including:
- autoimmune hepatitis
Having one type of hepatitis doesnt stop you from getting other types.
How Do You Get Hepatitis C
Just like hepatitis B, you can get this type by sharing needles or having contact with infected blood. You can also catch it by having sex with somebody who’s infected, but that’s less common.
If you had a blood transfusion before new screening rules were put in place in 1992, you are at risk for hepatitis C. If not, the blood used in transfusions today is safe. It gets checked beforehand to make sure it’s free of the virus that causes hepatitis B and C.
It’s rare, but if you’re pregnant and have the disease, it’s possible to pass it to your newborn.
There are some myths out there about how you get hepatitis C, so let’s set the record straight. It’s not spread by food and water . And you canât spread it by doing any of these things:
- Joint pain
See your doctor as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms.
Sometimes, people have no symptoms. To be sure you have hepatitis, youâll need to get tested.
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How Is Hepatitis B Treated
Your healthcare provider will treat you based on what type of hepatitis B you have, acute or chronic.
Acute hepatitis B infections
If you develop an acute form of the condition, you probably wont need medical treatment. Instead, your doctor will likely suggest that you get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and maintain a healthy diet to support your body as it fights off the infection.
Chronic hepatitis B infections
If you have chronic hepatitis B, you might be a candidate for drug therapy. Usually, drug therapy is used only if you have active liver disease. There are seven drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat hepatitis B. Two are injectable forms of interferon, while the five other antivirals are tablets.
You will need to take these medications every day. They help by slowing the viruss ability to multiply in your system. This helps reduce swelling and liver damage. Youll need to be regularly monitored for early signs of liver damage and liver cancer. Your healthcare provider will want to see you once or twice a year.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
There are two types of Hepatitis C acute and chronic . Individuals with acute Hepatitis C usually do not manifest symptoms and the small percentage that do will experience symptoms similar to the other cases of acute hepatitis, including flu-like symptoms, joint aches or mild skin rash. Individuals that are particularly likely to experience a severe course of Hepatitis C are those individuals that already have Hepatitis B and become infected with acute Hepatitis C.
Other symptoms which may be experienced by individuals with acute Hepatitis C are:
- Loss of appetite
As is the case for acute Hepatitis C, most people who have chronic Hepatitis C do not experience symptoms in the early stages or even in the advanced stages of the disease. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find out, by surprise, that one has the virus when donating blood or during a routine blood examination. It is possible to have Hepatitis C for many years and not know it which is the reason why the disease has been referred to as a silent killer.
If symptoms do occur, they will most likely exhibit as:
- Pain and tenderness in the area of the liver
In those persons who do develop symptoms, the average time period from exposure to symptom onset is 412 weeks .
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