Hepatitis B is a serious illness of the liver, marked by inflammation and possibly leading to scarring, liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver caused by the Hepatitis B virus. Many people don’t know that they have it, as there may not be symptoms immediately indicating infection. However, as long as you have it, you can infect other people. Most people get it for a short time and experience flu-like symptoms, then fully recover, even though symptoms may be severe. This is known as Acute Hepatitis B. In some patients, the virus causes a long-term infection, known as chronic Hepatitis B. Over time, the infection may cause scarring or liver damage. Young children or babies infected with the virus are more likely to develop chronic Hepatitis B.
Causes of Infection
Hepatitis B is transmitted via blood and bodily fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids. Traces of the virus have also been detected in the saliva, tears and urine of chronic carriers. Hepatitis B is widespread in developing countries in Asia and Africa. Ways to get infected would include:
- Accidental exposure in healthcare workers
- Acupuncture with infected needles
- Receiving a tattoo with an infected needle
- Sharing razors or toothbrushes with an infected person
- Having sex with an infected person without a condom
- Sharing needles or drugs with an infected person
- An infected mother can pass it on to her baby during delivery
Please note: you CANNOT get Hepatitis B from normal activities such as hugging, kissing, sneezing coughing, or touching someone who is infected.
Many people who have Hepatitis B do not actually have any symptoms. If you do experience symptoms with Hepatitis B, it usually feels like you have the flu. Symptoms include:
- Feeling Tired
- Mild Fever
- Nausea/Vomiting in some cases
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal Pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Yellowish eyes and skin. Jaundice may appear after the other symptoms fade.
If you’re wondering whether you have Hepatitis B, the first step is to get tested to see whether you have the virus. Treatment varies based on the severity of the symptoms and the progression of the illness. There are antiviral medications that can be prescribed if needed. A qualified physician can diagnose the severity of the symptoms and the proper treatment. Our physicians can also tell you what medicines and herbal remedies to avoid, as some herbs and medications actually increase liver damage in patients with Hepatitis B. A vaccine is also available to avoid the risk of acquiring Hepatitis B.
At GI Associates, we work with Hepatitis B cases on a daily basis. We can diagnose your symptoms and prescribe the best treatment to have you resting comfortably and recovering as quickly as possible. Contact us to set an appointment or just to get more information. We’re here to help you.