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.
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Causes Of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood that contains the hepatitis B virus. If infected blood or body fluids enter another persons bloodstream, that person may become infected.
The time from exposure to the hepatitis B virus to the appearance of the illness is 45 to 180 days.
Risky activities that can cause infection include:
- Sharing unsterile or unclean equipment for injecting drugs.
- Piercing the skin with equipment that is not properly cleaned, disinfected and sterilised.
- Sharing razor blades or toothbrushes.
- Coming into contact with infected blood through open cuts or the mucous membranes of another person.
- Having unprotected sex , especially if there is blood present.
Mothers who have hepatitis B can pass the virus to their babies or children at the time of birth or after birth. If the newborn baby is quickly immunised with 2 vaccines, they can be protected from getting hepatitis B.
All blood and blood products produced for medical purposes in Australia are carefully screened for hepatitis B and other blood-borne viruses. The risk of getting infected with hepatitis B from a blood transfusion is extremely low .
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Can I Take Hepatitis B Adult Vaccine If Im Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
It is not known whether this vaccine will harm an unborn baby. However, if you are at a high risk for infection with hepatitis B during pregnancy, your doctor should determine whether you need this vaccine.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of this vaccine on the baby.
It may not be safe to breastfeed while receiving this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.
Avoid Alcohol And Drugs
Hepatitis makes it hard for your liver to process drugs and alcohol. If you take drugs or drink alcohol when you have hepatitis, their effects may be more powerful and may last longer. They also can make liver damage worse.
- If you are taking prescription medicines, your doctor may tell you to stop using them until your liver has had time to heal. Don’t stop taking the medicines unless your doctor has told you to do so.
- Check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicines, including herbal products and acetaminophen . Acetaminophen can make liver disease worse, especially if you continue to drink alcohol.
- Avoid alcohol until your doctor feels that your liver is completely healed. This may take as long as 3 to 4 months.
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What To Think About
- Interferons have common side effects, including fever, headaches, and hair loss. They may also cause mental problems or make them worse.
- If you have cirrhosis, you cannot use interferons. But you can use adefovir, entecavir, lamivudine, telbivudine, and tenofovir.
- After any kind of treatment for hepatitis B, the virus may become active again .
Hepatitis A And B Vaccine Side Effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction:hives difficulty breathing swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.
You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.
Becoming infected with hepatitis is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.
You may feel faint after receiving this vaccine. Some people have had seizure like reactions after receiving this vaccine. Your doctor may want you to remain under observation during the first 15 minutes after the injection.
numbness, tingling, or burning pain
red or blistering skin rash with burning or tingly feeling
easy bruising or bleeding or
unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness.
Common side effects include:
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.
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Do You Have Hepatitis B
Have you been told you may be infected with hepatitis B? Did you get a letter following a blood donation, or receive lab results indicating infection? Its important you relax, educate yourself, and dont let the news scare you. The next step is to determine if you are infected, and if so, do you have an acute or chronic infection.
Youll want to talk with your doctor, and have a hepatitis B blood panel run. It is essential that you do not ignore the possibility of infection. That being said, its equally important that you not panic.
When you get your lab results, ask your doctor to explain them to you. Its possible that you are not infected, but if you are, then you will need follow-up testing. Be sure to ask for copies of your labs for your own records. The test results are initially confusing, so you will want to refer back to the hard-copy results.
Keep in mind that being vaccinated against hepatitis B will not protect you against the virus if you were infected with HBV prior to vaccination. This can be confusing since most people are not screened prior to vaccination, and is especially pertinent in high risk groups where the likelihood of mother to child transmission is greater.
The Hepatitis B Foundation has a step-by-step, comprehensive, yet-easy-to-understand tutorial that leads you through the process of determining your hepatitis B status, specific test results, and practical advice for coping with your HBV diagnosis.
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.
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Further Support And Information
The Hepatitis Foundation can offer support and information on hepatitis B.
The Hepatitis Foundation of New ZealandFreephone: 0800 33 20 10Website: www.hepfoundation.org.nzFor information about hepatitis B vaccination, consult a doctor or contact the:Immunisation Advisory CentreWebsite: www.immune.org.nz
Should I Be Screened For Hepatitis B
Screening is testing for a disease in people who have no symptoms. Doctors use blood tests to screen for hepatitis B. Many people who have hepatitis B dont have symptoms and dont know they are infected with hepatitis B. Screening tests can help doctors diagnose and treat hepatitis B, which can lower your chances of developing serious health problems.
Your doctor may recommend screening for hepatitis B if you9,14
- are pregnant
- were born in an area of the world where 2 percent or more of the population has hepatitis B infection, which includes Africa, Asia, and parts of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and South America
- didnt receive the hepatitis B vaccine as an infant and have parents who were born in an area where 8 percent or more of the population had hepatitis B infection, which includes sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia
- are HIV-positive
- are a man who has sex with men
- have lived with or had sex with a person who has hepatitis B
- have an increased chance of infection due to other factors
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What Increases Your Risk
People who have certain behaviours or certain jobs are at high risk for becoming infected with hepatitis B.
Job risk factors include:
- Handling blood or body fluids as a routine part of your job. This includes health care workers, such as doctors, dentists, nurses, and blood and lab technicians, and students in these jobs. It also includes morticians and embalmers.
- Being an employee or resident of an institution for people who have developmental disabilities.
- Being an employee or inmate of a prison.
Lifestyle risk factors include:
- Being born in, or travelling to, parts of the world where hepatitis B is common or where a large number of people have been infected for a long time. Such areas include Southeast and Central Asia, the islands of the South Pacific, the Amazon River basin, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and China.
- Being a man who has sex with men.
- Being sexually active. This includes having unprotected sex with someone who is infected with the virus or whose sexual history is unknown to you.
- Having more than one sex partner.
- Living with someone who has a chronic hepatitis B infection.
- Getting body piercings or tattoos from someone who doesn’t sterilize his or her equipment.
- Sharing needles or other equipment to inject illegal drugs.
Other factors include:
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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 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 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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Before Taking This Medicine
Hepatitis A and B vaccine will not protect you against infection with hepatitis C or E, or other viruses that affect the liver. It will also not protect you from hepatitis A or B if you are already infected with the virus, even if you do not yet show symptoms.
You should not receive this vaccine if you are allergic to yeast or neomycin, or if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine containing hepatitis A or hepatitis B.
Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor if you have:
an allergy to latex rubber or
a weak immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant, or by using certain medicines or receiving cancer treatments.
You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.
FDA pregnancy category C. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant. It is not known whether hepatitis A and B vaccine will harm an unborn baby. However, not vaccinating the mother could be harmful to the baby if the mother becomes infected with a disease that this vaccine could prevent. Your doctor will decide whether you should receive this vaccine, especially if you have a high risk of infection with hepatitis.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of this vaccine on the baby.
Newly Diagnosed With Hepatitis B Acute Or Chronic Learning The Hep B Basics
If youve just been diagnosed with hepatitis B after a routine blood test or following a blood donation, you may be feeling overwhelmed with information about this complicated infection and references to acute or chronic hepatitis B.
Here is an explanation of these two terms and what happens when youre first infected with the hepatitis B virus . Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and sexual fluids. It can be spread during unprotected sex, unsafe medical procedures, exposure to blood that enters your body through a cut, or by sharing personal items such as razors, body jewelry or toothbrushes. Most commonly it is spread during childbirth when the mother is infected.
What is an acute infection? When were infected with HBV as healthy adults, about 90 percent of us are able to get rid of the infection within six months. It can take up to six months for our immune systems to generate antibodies and get rid of the infection in our liver. This short-term infection is called acute hepatitis B.
To determine if you have an acute or chronic infection, you must be tested for hepatitis B over a six-month period. The specific test that indicates if you are infected is the hepatitis B surface antigen test. This antigen covers the surface of the virus and there are usually lots of HBsAg in your blood when youre infected. If you test positive for HBsAg for longer than six months, it means you have a chronic hepatitis B infection.
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Hepatitis And Sex: Frequently Asked Questions
Itâs widely known that viral hepatitis can spread through consuming contaminated food or sharing dirty hypodermic needles. But the liver-destroying disease can also sometimes be spread through sexual contact. Hereâs what you need to know to protect yourself.
How many kinds of viral hepatitis are there?
Can all types be spread by sexual contact?
Hepatitis A spreads via fecal-oral contact, which can occur if there is direct oral-anal contact or contact with fingers or objects that have been in or near the anus of an infected person. If even a microscopic amount of virus-laden feces gets into the mouth, infection potentially can result.
Are men and women equally at risk of getting and spreading hepatitis through sex?
The risk is determined by a personâs behavior, not their gender, although some studies have shown that it is easier for a man to transmit HCV to a woman than vice versa.
Men who have sex with men are 10 to 15 times more likely than the general population to be infected with hepatitis B.
How can I make sure my partner is free of hepatitis before we have sex?
Are some sex acts especially likely to transmit hepatitis?
Any sexual activity that might cause abrasions, cuts, or other trauma is especially risky.
Is it possible to catch hepatitis from kissing?