Hepatitis B: How You Can Get It Symptoms And Treatment
Hepatitis is an infection that affects the liver which is one of the most important organs that keeps you alive and functioning. Without the liver, internal and external bleeding will not stop, energy will not be stored for later use, as well as drugs, poisons, and infections will not be removed from the blood.
What Vaccines Are Available
The hepatitis B vaccine on its own, or Twinrix if you also want to get the hepatitis A vaccine at the same time
You need a series of shots to get immunity and several timing schedules are available
Immunity is life-long once completed in most people
Since 1982 in Canada, hepatitis B is part of routine childhood vaccination
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.
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What Can I Do If I Think I Have Hepatitis B
Cases are generally diagnosed by GPs, not sexual health clinics. If you had sex with someone recently or you share your house with others, they can be vaccinated to stop them getting the infection they should see a doctor straight away.
Avoid sex until you are told youre no longer infectious or until your partners have been vaccinated.
A blood test will confirm whether you have the virus.
How To Prevent Transmission
Between 2% and 6% of adults infected with hepatitis B virus will develop chronic hepatitis B. Chronic hepatitis B can lead to liver failure and liver cancer, so protecting yourself is important.
The hepatitis B vaccine is safe for almost everyone and about 95% effective for providing long-term protection against hepatitis B infection.
While anyone can benefit from the vaccine, people who are at a greater risk of being exposed to the virus because of their work, lifestyle or medical history are strongly encouraged to be immunized. In many countries, babies born to infected mothers get vaccinated at birth. All babies born in the United States are routinely vaccinated.
Hepatitis B immune globulin , is another way to prevent hepatitis B infection in babies born to infected mothers or after exposure to the virus. This uses concentrated antibodies to provide immediate protection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is given as a shot and can provide short-term protection against hepatitis B.
Because the hepatitis B vaccine does not protect against HIV, hepatitis C or other diseases spread through sex and contact with blood, it’s still important to keep using basic protective strategies. Practicing safer sex and not sharing needles are recommended even if you’re immune to hepatitis B.
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How Do You Contract Hepatitis A
May 30, 2019
When you travel, it is always important to consider all health risks.
One risk you are taking, especially in developing countries, is contracting hepatitis A .
Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness. But, as is the case with most dangerous diseases, its quite easy to unknowingly spread and contract HAV.
The virus is most commonly transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated food and water. Usually that comes in the form of infected fecal matter that somehow ends up in your food or drink. Any direct contact with an infectious person can also spread hepatitis A.
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.
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How Do You Get Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is really contagious. Its transmitted through contact with semen , vaginal fluids, and blood. You can get it from:
having vaginal, anal, or oral sex
sharing toothbrushes and razors
sharing needles for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
getting stuck with a needle that has the Hep B virus on it.
Hepatitis B can also be passed to babies during birth if their mother has it.
Hepatitis B isnt spread through saliva , so you CANT get hepatitis B from sharing food or drinks or using the same fork or spoon. Hepatitis B is also not spread through kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding.
Can Hepatitis B Be Treated
If you know you have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus in the previous seven days or less, you can receive an injection of hepatitis B immune globulin that may prevent you from developing the disease. Besides this, there is no treatment for acute hepatitis B.
If you have chronic hepatitis B, two types of treatment exist interferon which is a medication administered by a needle, and antiviral medicines that are taken by mouth. Current approved hepatitis B oral medications include lamivudine, adefovir, telbivudine, tenofovir, and entecavir. These treatments do not provide a cure, but they offer control of the virus so that further damage to your liver can be prevented. When and how to treat your hepatitis B is a decision between you and your doctor. Availability of the medications listed above may vary from province to province based on provincial government drug plans and individual insurance plans.
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Who Should Be Vaccinated For Hepatitis B
All newborns should be vaccinated. Also, people who are under 18 who were not vaccinated at birth should also get the vaccine. Other groups who should be sure to be vaccinated are those in certain high-risk categories, such as:
- People who have more than one sexual partner.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Adults with diabetes.
- Sexual partners of infected people and people who share households with infected individuals.
- People who are exposed to blood and other bodily fluids, including healthcare and public safety professionals, and people who work in jails and other places taking care of people who cant take care of themselves.
How It’s Passed On
- sharing injecting drug equipment, such as needles and syringes, which can carry infected blood
- childbirth, from a mother to her baby.
It can be found in saliva but there are no proven cases of it being passed on through kissing. Infections from bites are rare.
Avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, nail scissors, hair clippers and tweezers because traces of blood on them can pass on hepatitis B. This includes dried blood as the virus can survive for at least a week outside of the body.
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Hepatitis B And Your Liver
The liver is such an important organ that we can survive only one or two days if it completely shuts down – if the liver fails, your body will fail, too. Fortunately, the liver can function even when up to 80% of it is diseased or removed. This is because it has the amazing ability to regenerate – or create – itself from healthy liver cells that still exist.
If your body were an automobile, your liver would be considered the engine. It does hundreds of vital things to make sure everything runs smoothly:
- Stores vitamins, sugar and iron to help give your body energy
- Controls the production and removal of cholesterol
- Clears your blood of waste products, drugs and other poisonous substances
- Makes clotting factors to stop excessive bleeding after cuts or injuries
- Produces immune factors and removes bacteria from the bloodstream to combat infection
- Releases a substance called “bile” to help digest food and absorb important nutrients
The word hepatitis actually means inflammation of the liver. Thus, hepatitis B refers to inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. With early detection and appropriate follow-up medical care, people living with a chronic hepatitis B infection can expect to enjoy a long and healthy life.
Who’s Most At Risk Of Hepatitis B
People at highest risk of hepatitis B include:
- people born or brought up in a country where the infection is common
- babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B
- people who have ever injected drugs
- anyone who has had unprotected sex, including anal or oral sex particularly people who have had multiple sexual partners, people who have had sex with someone in or from a high-risk area, men who have sex with men, and commercial sex workers
- close contacts, such as family members, of someone with a long-term hepatitis B infection
The risk of getting hepatitis B for travellers going to places where the infection is common is generally considered to be low if these activities are avoided.
Your GP can arrange for you to have a blood test to check for hepatitis B and have the hepatitis B vaccination if you’re at a high risk.
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Living With Hepatitis B
Risk of chronic infection caused by hepatitis B is related to your age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection . Approximately 90% of infected infants become chronically infected compared with 2%-6% of adult, reports the CDC.
Chronic hepatitis B infection can lead to serious health issues. If you have it, you should be monitored regularly by a doctor. This means you should check in with your doctor at least once or twice a year. Some people who have chronic hepatitis B infection require medicine, but others do not. Your doctor can discuss treatment options with you.
If you have chronic hepatitis B infection, it will likely stay in your blood and liver for a lifetime, according to The Hepatitis B Foundation. This means that you could pass the virus to others, even if you dont feel sick.
The most important thing to remember is that hepatitis B is a chronic medical condition that can be successfully managed if you take good care of your health and your liver, reports the Hepatitis B Foundation. You should expect to live a long, full life.
What Is Involved In A Liver Transplant
A liver transplant is considered necessary when the liver is damaged and cannot function or in some cases of liver cancer. Your liver is very important. It is responsible for many functions related to making sure that your body stays healthy and is able to digest foods.
You may be eligible for a transplant if you have chronic hepatitis B infection or some of the diseases that may result from it, including liver cancer and cirrhosis. You will have to complete testing and be evaluated before being approved for a transplant. It is likely that you will be placed on a waiting list while an appropriate organ is found.
Donated livers come from two types of donors: living and deceased. Because the liver can regenerate, it is possible to use part of a liver for transplant. The remaining sections in both the donor and the receiver will grow into livers of adequate size.
People who get liver transplants must take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. These drugs make you more susceptible to infection. However, liver transplants have become more successful over time and continue to improve.
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Habits You Should Avoid Once You Have Hepatitis B
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver that is commonly caused by a viral infection. It can occur as a result of other possible causes of hepatitis such as toxins.What is Hepatitis B?Hepatitis B is a severe infection that affects the liver. It is usually caused by the hepatitis B virus .
How Can I Avoid And Stay Safe From Hepatitis A
Despite the severity of HAV, most people recover fully with a lifelong immunity.
Additionally, there are precautionary measures you can take to stay out of harm.
Clean drinking water and knowledge of food safety are the simplest way to minimize risk.
Washing your hands frequently and being vaccinated are also noted to be effective measures.
Hepatitis A vaccines were recommended in the U.S. starting in 1996. Since then, there has been a steady decrease in reported cases. In 1996 approximately 31,000 cases were reported in the U.S. and that number has plummeted to an average under 1,500. Although, recent outbreaks in various parts of the U.S. have led to a surprising and even record-setting return of hepatitis A.
It is recommended that each person be injected with two doses of the vaccine for long-lasting protection. Each dose should be taken at least six months apart.
It is also important to avoid taking an unnecessary medication. For example, medication that helps with vomiting should not be taken.
The vaccine has been proven as a legitimate force against HAV. Nearly 100 percent of people develop protective counteracting agents to the virus within one month after injection. Much of the reason for vaccine success is because HAV is an acute illness. Once a person has contracted hepatitis A, they cant get it again.
It is incredibly important to be vaccinated for HAV.
Unlike hepatitis B and C, HAV does not cause chronic liver disease. But, the virus can still be fatal.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- How did I get hepatitis B?
- What treatment is best for me?
- Can I be cured of hepatitis B?
- Are there any medicines I should take?
- What can I do to protect my friends and family from hepatitis B?
- How long will my treatment last?
- Is it possible for hepatitis B to come back?
- Should I get the hepatitis B vaccine?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medicines?
- Will my liver ever be normal again?
Hepatitis B Causes And Risk Factors
Itâs caused by the hepatitis B virus, and it can spread from person to person in certain ways. You can spread the hepatitis B virus even if you donât feel sick.
The most common ways to get hepatitis B include:
- Sex. You can get it if you have unprotected sex with someone who has it and your partnerâs blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body.
- Sharing needles. The virus spreads easily via needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood.
- Accidental needle sticks.Health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood can get it this way.
- Mother to child.Pregnant women with hepatitis B can pass it to their babies during childbirth. But thereâs a vaccine to prevent newborns from becoming infected.
Hepatitis B doesnât spread through kissing, food or water, shared utensils, coughing or sneezing, or through touch.
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Outlook For Hepatitis B
The vast majority of people infected with hepatitis B in adulthood are able to fight off the virus and fully recover within 1 to 3 months.
Most will then be immune to the infection for life.
Babies and children with hepatitis B are more likely to develop a chronic infection.
Chronic hepatitis B affects around:
- 90% of babies with hepatitis B
- 20% of older children with hepatitis B
- 5% of adults with hepatitis B
Although treatment can help, there’s a risk that people with chronic hepatitis B could eventually develop life-threatening problems, such as scarring of the liver or liver cancer.
Page last reviewed: 30 January 2019 Next review due: 30 January 2022
What Laboratory Tests Are Available For Hepatitis B
Tests are available to detect the types of antigens used to identify the hepatitis B virus. The tests determine if the virus is present in the body tissue or blood. The amount of each type of antigen present indicates how advanced the disease is and how infective the individual has become.
Other tests are available to detect the body’s reaction to the viral infection or the body’s reaction to vaccination against the virus. These tests work by measuring the number of antibodies present in the blood.
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What Is Hepatitis
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by several viruses. The main types of hepatitis in the United States are A, B, and C. Hepatitis type A symptoms are often similar to a stomach virus. Most hepatitis A cases resolve within a month. However, Hepatitis B and C can lead to liver cancer or a chronic infection that can lead to serious liver damage called cirrhosis.
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