Hepatitis B is an infection of your liver. It is caused by a virus. There is a vaccine that protects against it. If that happens, it can cause scarring of the organ, liver failure, and cancer, and it even can be life-threatening. It’s spread when people come in contact with the blood, open sores, or body fluids of someone who has the hepatitis B virus. It’s serious, but if you get the disease as an adult, it shouldn’t last a long time. Your body fights it off within a few months, and you’re immune for the rest of your life. That means you can’t get it again.
Hepatitis B Symptoms
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness and fatigue
Symptoms may not show up until 1 to 6 months after you catch the virus. You might not feel anything. About a third of the people who have this disease don’t. They find out only through a blood test.
Hepatitis B Causes and Risk Factors
The most common ways to get hepatitis B include:
- Sex: You can get it if you have unprotected sex with someone who has it and your partner’s blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body.
- Sharing needles: The virus spreads easily via needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood.
- Accidental needle sticks: Health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood can get it this way.
- Mother to child: Pregnant women with hepatitis B can pass it to their babies during childbirth. But there’s a vaccine to prevent newborns from becoming infected.
It is doesn’t spread through kissing, food or water, shared utensils, coughing or sneezing, or through touch.
Hepatitis B Prevention
- Get the hepatitis B vaccine. It’s key to prevention.
- Use condoms every time you have sex.
- Cover all open cuts or wounds.
- Don’t share razors, toothbrushes, nail care tools, or pierced earrings with anyone.
- Don’t share chewing gum, and don’t pre-chew food for a baby.
- Make certain that any needles for drugs, ear piercing, or tattoos, or tools for manicures and pedicures are properly sterilized.
- Clean up blood with one part household bleach and 10 parts water.