I Think I May Have Hepatitis What Would That Mean
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How Do Doctors Treat The Complications Of Hepatitis C
If hepatitis C leads to cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Doctors can treat the health problems related to cirrhosis with medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If you have cirrhosis, you have an increased chance of liver cancer. Your doctor may order an ultrasound test to check for liver cancer.
If hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed
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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Hepatitis Cases In Children
The number of cases of hepatitis in children has increased recently. Public health doctors and scientists are looking into what could be causing this.
See a GP if your child has symptoms of hepatitis, including yellowing of the eyes and skin .
Good hygiene, including supervising hand washing in young children, can help to prevent infections that can cause hepatitis.
Hep C Infections Can Be Either Acute Or Chronic
A long term infection that remains in the body for a lifetime
Can result in long term health issues including cancer and death
80% of people exposed to hep C as adults will develop a chronic infection
Up to 3.2 million people in the U.S. might be infected with chronic hepatitis C
Most people who have chronic hepatitis C are not aware that they are infected
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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.
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
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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
Do I Need To Get Tested For Hepatitis C
Maybe. Most people with hepatitis C dont have any symptoms. This means you might have the infection without knowing it. The CDC recommends hepatitis C testing for some women without symptoms.
Ask your doctor about getting tested for hepatitis C if:
- You were born between 1945 and 19659
- You have ever injected drugs, even once17
- You had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
- You received clotting factors made before 1987
- You have sex with or share needles with someone who has hepatitis C
- You have been on dialysis
- Your liver test results were not normal
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How Is Viral Hepatitis Diagnosed
Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of viral hepatitis. Your doctor will:
- Ask questions about your health history
- Do a physical exam
- Order blood tests that look for parts of the virus or antibodies that your body makes in response to the virus. Other tests may measure the amount of the virus in your blood.
Who Should Get The Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given in three doses over six months. The vaccine is recommended for:28
- All children at birth
- All children and teens younger than 19 who have not been vaccinated
- Men who have sex with men
- People who live with or have sex with someone who is infected with hepatitis B
- People with more than one sex partner
- People who share equipment to inject drugs
- People with chronic liver or kidney disease
- People with HIV
- People younger than 60 with diabetes
- People whose jobs expose them to human blood or other body fluids
- Residents and staff of facilities for people with developmental disabilities
- People who travel to parts of the world where hepatitis B is common, such as Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Amazon Basin in South America, the Pacific Islands, parts of Eastern Europe, and parts of the Middle East.29 See the CDCs Travelers Health information page.
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If You Notice Symptoms See A Doctor Right Away
Symptoms of hepatitis C include the following:
- Jaundice a yellowish tone to the eyes and skin
- Mild, chronic right belly pain
- Loss of appetite
If you believe you have been exposed to hepatitis C or notice any symptoms, visit your primary care doctor as soon as possible. If you test positive for the virus, your doctor can refer you to a hepatologist to discuss your options.
“I strongly encourage all baby boomers and others who are at high risk to get tested, even if you don’t look or feel sick,” Reau says. “If you do have hepatitis C, the earlier we discover it, the more likely we can prevent it from progressing and causing more serious damage.”
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.
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What Is Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is contagious. The virus lives in poop from people who have the infection. That’s why it’s so important to wash your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom. If you don’t, and then go make yourself a sandwich, hep A virus might end up on your food, and then in you! People who recover from hepatitis A have immunity to the virus and won’t get it again.
The hepatitis A vaccine has made the infection less common in the United States and other developed countries. Getting vaccinated helps a person’s body make antibodies that protect against hepatitis infection. The hepatitis A vaccine is given to all kids when they’re between 1 and 2 years old, and to people who travel to countries where the virus could get into the food and water supply.
These steps also help keep people safe from hepatitis A:
- regular hand washing, especially after going to the bathroom or diapering a baby, and before eating
- washing fruits and vegetables before eating them
- not eating raw shellfish, such as raw oysters
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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Immunisation For Hepatitis B
Immunisation is the best protection against hepatitis B infection. A course of vaccination is recommended for all babies and people in high-risk groups.
Immunisation can be with a vaccine against hepatitis B alone or with a combination vaccine. To be immunised, contact your doctor or local council.
Protection against hepatitis B is available free of charge under the National Immunisation Program Schedule. In Victoria, immunisation against hepatitis B is free for:
- Babies at birth immunisation against hepatitis B alone as soon as possible after birth.
- Babies at 2, 4 and 6 months combination immunisation in the form of a diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine .
- Premature babies at 12 months premature babies born under 32 weeks gestation or under 2,000g birth weight receive a single booster dose.
- Children up to and including 9 years of age.
- People aged less than 20 years having a catch-up immunisation.
- Refugees and humanitarian entrants aged 20 years and above.
In Victoria, free hepatitis B vaccine is provided for people who are at increased risk of infection, including:
Immunisation is also recommended, but not necessarily free, for people who are at increased risk of infection, including:
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.
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Sometimes The Infection Goes Away On Its Own
Acute hepatitis is C is a short-term illness that occurs within the first six months after being exposed to the virus. Like the human papillomavirus , early acute hepatitis C can clear on its own without treatment this happens about 25% of the time.
However, it’s more likely that the virus will remain in your body longer than six months, at which point it’s considered to be chronic hepatitis C infection.
“Being younger or a woman tends to be a factor in whether the virus clears on its own, and genetics may play a role,” Reau says. “But we can’t determine with certainty which people are certain to clear the infection and which aren’t.”
What Is Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
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Symptoms Are A Bit Tricky
People who have hepatitis C rarely show symptoms, regardless if it is an acute or chronic infection. The lack of symptoms makes getting tested for hep C much more important. However, it is important to keep in mind that just because symptoms are rare, it doesnt mean that you wont get them if you are infected.
How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis B
Like all STDs, the only way to know for sure if you have hepatitis B is to get tested whether or not you have symptoms.
If youre showing any signs of hepatitis B, you should get tested. Its also a good idea to get a test if you had unprotected sex or shared a needle, razor, or toothbrush with someone who has hepatitis B .
Your nurse or doctor will take a quick blood sample to test you for hepatitis B. It may take up to two months after infection for the test to be accurate but if youre not feeling well, dont wait to see a doctor or nurse.
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What Are The Different Types Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be acute or chronic. How long you experience symptoms will depend on the type you have.
Acute hepatitis C involves more short-term symptoms that typically last 6 months or less but acute hepatitis often leads to chronic hepatitis. When hepatitis C lasts longer than 6 months, its considered chronic.
Without treatment, you may have chronic hepatitis your whole life, since your body often cant get rid of the virus easily. Some people do get better without treatment, although treatment can go a long way toward improving the outlook.
Hepatitis C wont necessarily become chronic.
As a matter of fact, for anywhere from 15 to 45 percent of people with acute hepatitis C, the virus will clear up without treatment. In other words, if you dont have any symptoms, hepatitis C could improve on its own before you ever know you have it.
However, if your body cant get rid of the hepatitis C virus, the infection wont go away. Instead, it will become chronic, or long-term.
Experts arent sure why some people develop the chronic form of the disease and others dont. But more than half of all people with the hepatitis C virus will eventually develop the chronic form, according to the
Since hepatitis C symptoms can resemble those of other health conditions, your symptoms alone if you have any may not make it clear that you have hepatitis C.
A doctor or other healthcare professional may recommend getting tested if you:
How Do Doctors Treat Hepatitis C
Doctors treat hepatitis C with antiviral medicines that attack the virus and can cure the disease in most cases.
Several newer medicines, called direct-acting antiviral medicines, have been approved to treat hepatitis C since 2013. Studies show that these medicines can cure chronic hepatitis C in most people with this disease. These medicines can also cure acute hepatitis C. In some cases, doctors recommend waiting to see if an acute infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.
Your doctor may prescribe one or more of these newer, direct-acting antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C:
You may need to take medicines for 8 to 24 weeks to cure hepatitis C. Your doctor will prescribe medicines and recommend a length of treatment based on
- which hepatitis C genotype you have
- how much liver damage you have
- whether you have been treated for hepatitis C in the past
Your doctor may order blood tests during and after your treatment. Blood tests can show whether the treatment is working. Hepatitis C medicines cure the infection in most people who complete treatment.
Hepatitis C medicines may cause side effects. Talk with your doctor about the side effects of treatment. Check with your doctor before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
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How Do I Know If I Have Acute Or Chronic Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis A, B, and C all start out as an acute infection. Some acute infections can develop into lifelong, chronic infections. Your doctor may do a blood test to see if the infection is acute or chronic.
- Hepatitis A causes acute infection only. Most people recover with no lasting health problems.
- Hepatitis B and C can cause both acute and chronic infections. Some people recover from the acute infection and cannot spread the infection to others. For other people, the infection develops into a chronic infection and can be spread to others.