There are approximately 1.2 million people in the United States who have hepatitis B, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a division of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). This is a type of liver infection that is caused by the hepatitis B virus, or HBV.
There are two main types of hepatitis B: acute and chronic. If you have acute hepatitis B, you should be able to recover from the disease within about six months; however, it can become chronic. Chronic hepatitis B is when the infection has not been able to be eradicated by your immune system.
Most adults are able to rid their bodies of this disease when infected. Children are likely to be asymptomatic, but they are also more likely to develop chronic hepatitis B than adults with the condition. Fortunately, there is a vaccine to prevent this viral infection.
If left untreated, the chronic version of this virus can eventually cause permanent liver damage and liver cancer. Let’s talk about the hepatitis B liver infection and its causes and symptoms:
Causes of Hepatitis B
This condition is caused by a virus that specifically attacks the liver. You can get this virus in many ways, including the following:
- Having unprotected sexual relations with someone who has HBV
- Sharing contaminated needles and drug instruments
- Being birthed by a mother who has HBV
- Having accidental contact with another person’s HBV-infected bodily fluids, such as a needle stick
- Having contact with an infected person’s saliva, semen, vaginal secretions, or blood
Even using an infected person’s toothbrush, razors, or nail file can cause you to acquire the infection. Although it cannot be spread through coughing or sneezing, it is important to wipe off your skin if an infected person’s particulates come into contact with your body.
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis B?
While some people who have hepatitis B remain asymptomatic, other people exhibit many or all of the possible signs – some severely so. The usual symptoms are:
- Achy muscles and joints
- Severe stomach pain
- Constant feeling of nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice of the skin and eyes
- Dark-colored urine
Treatments for hepatitis B are slowly evolving, and they include anti-viral medications and drinking plenty of fluids. See your gastroenterologist to find out what can be done to combat or prevent hepatitis B.
Gastroenterology in Austin
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, or if any of the descriptors here are accurate for you or someone you love, contact an experienced gastroenterologist for an evaluation. Treatments are available for hepatitis B, and our skilled medical team at Austin Gastroenterology can help you get on the road to health and wellness.
If you do have this liver infection, our physicians can help you manage the condition so that it doesn’t become worse or interfere further with your life. Contact us today by calling our friendly team at (512) 244-2273 to schedule a consultation, or complete our easy-to-use appointment request form online now. We look forward to seeing you and helping you feel much better.