Hepatitis B is a liver infection, similar to hepatitis A, caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). The infection can either be acute (short term) or chronic (life long). Acute Hepatitis B occurs within 6 months after exposure to HBV, it’s likely that your immune system can clear HBV and symptoms are limited. If the infections lasts longer than 6 months it is considered Chronic. Chronic HBV occurs when the immune system is not able to clear the infection, leading to possible cirrhosis (scaring of the liver), liver cancer, liver failure, and possible development of kidney disease or inflammation of blood vessels.
No matter if the infection is acute or chronic, the symptoms are the same and many may not see these symptoms in acute infections. If symptoms do arise they usually come four months after infections, though some report symptoms as early as two weeks.
Hepatitis B signs and symptoms might include:
- Abdominal pain
- Dark Urine
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness and fatigue
- Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice)
HBV can be transmitted via contact with the blood, semen or other bodily fluids of an infected induvial. HBV can survive outside the body for a least seven days, even dried blood can still be infected with HBV. common HBV transitions include:
- Sexual contact with an infected individual. Blood, saliva, semen or vaginal secretions can contain HBV.
- Sharing of needles. IV drug use spreads HBV effectively though a community.
- Accidental needle sticks. HBV is a large concern for healthcare workers, police officers, and tattoo artist.
- Mother to child. Pregnant women infected with HBV can pass that to their children during childbirth.
There is a Hepatitis B vaccine that is given as a set of three or four injections over the course of several months, you can’t become infect through the vaccine. If you have not received the HBV vaccine or are unsure, reach out to your doctor to make an appointment. Once the full vaccine is administered it provides 90% protection for HBV (CDC, 2021). This vaccine is available for all ages, bellow is a guide for when to administer this vaccine to infants, from the CDC.
If you believe that you may of been infected or exposed to the hepatitis B virus, contact your care provider immediately. Infection can be prevented with the vaccine or a single shot called “HBIG” (hepatitis B immune globulin) as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours after exposure. HBIG is a substance derived from human blood samples contain the antibodies that fight HBV to help newly infected fight the virus. In Wichita, places such as
CDC. (2020, July 28). What is hepatitis b – faq. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/bfaq.htm
Haber, P., MPH, & Schillie, S., MD, MPH, MBA. (2021, February 03). Pinkbook. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/hepb.html
MFMER. (2020, September 04). Hepatitis b. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-b/symptoms-causes/syc-20366802