What is hepatitis B? Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by a virus which spreads through blood and body fluids. Hepatitis B affects children more seriously than adults. Hepatitis B symptoms in adults are not obvious and the infection can pass in just a few months without treatment. Yet for children, hepatitis B can be an infection that stays for years and may cause considerable damage to the liver, over time. In the UK, hepatitis B is less common than in other countries but still, certain groups of the population are at an increased risk of infection. A hepatitis B vaccine is available for people identified to be at high risk of this condition.
Symptoms of Hepatitis B
If you do have symptoms, they can appear about 2-3 months after exposure to the hepatitis B virus.
They can include:
- Feeling tired
- Having general aches and pains
- A high temperature
- A general awareness of feeling unwell
- A loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Experiencing diarrhoea
- Tummy ache
- Noticing a yellowing of the skin and of the eyes (called jaundice)
- Passing dark urine and grey-coloured stools
Symptoms like these may mirror ones caused by other common illnesses like flu or even gastroenteritis. Put your mind at ease by booking an appointment for a rapid results test to both be sure and to be best placed to access the treatment you really need.
What causes Hepatitis B?
How do you get hepatitis B? Hepatitis B virus is found in the blood and in bodily fluids like semen and vaginal fluids, in the infected person.
Hepatitis B can be passed on by:
- A mother to her new-born baby – especially in countries where it is a common infection
- Within families – child to child – in countries where it is a common infection
- Injecting drugs, sharing needles and other drug equipment like spoons and filters
- Having sex with an infected person without using a condom
- Having a tattoo, body piercing, medical or dental treatment in an unhygienic setting with unsterilised equipment
- Sharing toothbrushes or razors contaminated with infected blood
Hepatitis B is not passed on by casual contact like kissing, hugging or holding hands. Hepatitis B is also not passed on by coughing, sneezing or by sharing crockery or utensils.
Treatments for Hepatitis B
A vaccine which offers protection against hepatitis B is routinely available for all babies born in the UK. Most people infected with hepatitis B as adults can battle the virus with full recovery taking them between 1-3 months. It is babies and children with hepatitis B who are more likely to suffer from a chronic infection due to this virus. With chronic hepatitis B, there is a real chance of developing complications such as cirrhosis of the liver (where the liver becomes scarred) or even liver cancer.
Hepatitis B rapid result testing is available and it can be a decision to take not just to help yourself but also your whole family, today.