Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B

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.

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