1.What is it?
Hepatitis B is an infection of your liver. It can cause scarring of the organ, liver failure, and cancer. It can be fatal if it isn’t treated. It’s spread when people come in contact with the blood, open sores, or body fluids of someone who has the Hepatitis B virus (HBV).
2.How do you get Hepatitis B?
You can get it if you have unprotected sex with someone who has it and blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body. You can get infected if you share needles as the virus spreads easily via needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Accidental needle stick injuries are another method of transmission. Health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood can get it this way. Pregnant women with Hepatitis B can pass it to their babies during childbirth.
3.How soon will symptoms appear?
On average symptoms appear 90 days after exposure, but they can appear any time between 6 weeks and 6 months after exposure.
4.What are the symptoms?
Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis B range from mild to severe. Some people, usually young children, may not have any symptoms. Hepatitis B signs and symptoms may include: abdominal pain; dark urine; fever; joint pain; loss of appetite; nausea and vomiting; weakness and fatigue; yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice). Hepatitis B infection may be either short-lived (acute) or long lasting (chronic). Acute Hepatitis B infection usually lasts less than six months. Your immune system likely can clear acute Hepatitis B from your body, and you should recover completely within a few months. Chronic Hepatitis B infection lasts 6 months or longer. Chronic Hepatitis B infection may last a lifetime, possibly leading to serious illnesses such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
5.Testing and Treatment.
Blood testscan detectsigns of the Hepatitis B virus in your body and tell your doctor whether it’s acute or chronic. A simple blood test can also determine if you’re immune to the condition. If your doctor determines your hepatitis B infection is acute you may not need treatment. Your doctor might recommend rest, proper nutrition and plenty of fluids while your body fights the infection. Most people diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis B infection need treatment for the rest of their lives. Treatment such as antiviral medications helps reduce the risk of liver disease and prevents you from passing the infection to others.
6.How can I reduce my risk of getting Hepatitis B?
There is a vaccine available to provide you immunity against Hepatitis B. There are other simple ways to help stop the spread of Hepatitis B: wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any potential exposure to blood; use condoms with sexual partners; avoid direct contact with blood and bodily fluids; cover all cuts carefully; avoid sharing sharp items such as razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes, and earrings or body rings; discard sanitary napkins and tampons into plastic bags; make sure new, sterile needles are used for ear or body piercing, tattoos, and acupuncture.
image source: online