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What is Hepatitis B?

By on June 28, 2012 in Diseases, Health with 0 Comments

 

What is hepatitis B and how is it transmitted?

There are 5 viruses that cause hepatitis. Each hepatitis virus is so named with a letter of the alphabet: hepatitis A , hepatitis B, hepatitis C , hepatitis D and hepatitis E. Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection that usually spreads through contact with blood and / or body fluids of a person who has the infection.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?

The symptoms of hepatitis B may include:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Weakness and fatigue.
  • Abdominal pain, especially in the area around the liver.
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
  • Joint pain.

Symptoms of hepatitis B can range from mild to severe. If you have a mild case of hepatitis, may not even realize they have it. This may not cause symptoms or may only cause symptoms similar to stomach flu.

How is hepatitis B spread?

You can get hepatitis B if you have unprotected sex with a partner who has the infection. People who use drugs intravenously (IV) can get hepatitis B when they share needles with someone who has the virus. Health care workers (such as nurses, laboratory technicians and doctors) can get these infections if they accidentally stuck with a needle that was used in a patient who has the infection. The infection can also spread from mother to child during childbirth. You also have more chances of getting hepatitis B if you travel to areas of the world where hepatitis B is common.

Hepatitis B can not be transmitted through casual contact. For example, you can not get hepatitis B by hugging someone who has the infection or by shaking hands.

How is hepatitis B infection treated?

If you have hepatitis B infection, the body may be able to fight infection on its own, which means you may not need treatment. Your doctor will help you manage symptoms and monitor their status as the body works to eliminate hepatitis B in the system.

If you have hepatitis B infection, your GP may refer you to a gastroenterologist or other subspecialist who treats people who have chronic liver problems. There are a number of medical treatments available that are often successful. These include treatment with antiviral drugs.

Treatment may last a year or more, depending on the severity of infection and response to treatment.

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